Doctors, law enforcement warn about “drugged driving” dangers

GREENVILLE, NC (WNCT) – Local doctors and law enforcement officers are working to educate more drivers about the dangers of drugged driving.

Driving while impaired can occur from alcohol or drugs. “It’s any drug or anything you take into your body that impairs your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely,” said Greenville Traffic Safety Officer Pat O’Callaghan.

Officer O’Callaghan has charged many people with DWI. Some weren’t drunk – but instead impaired by medication. “They would be swerving, wide turns, driving the wrong way almost head on into traffic, things like that.”

Dr. Brian McMillen of the Brody School of Medicine said operating a vehicle while on certain medications creates a dangerous situation.

“The greater the number of divisions and complexity of the task, the greater the effect of any impairing type substance,” said Dr. McMillen. “You have to pay attention to the road ahead, what’s behind you, you gotta control the wheel, you gotta pay attention to your speed, you have to control the pedals. There’s several things that you have to be doing simultaneously.”

Some prescriptions, and even over the counter medications, can create a drowsy driver.

“There’s sneaky things like Benadryl. It’s effects are to make you drowsy, and it boosts the effects of narcotics,” said Dr. McMillen.

Taking a drug before driving doesn’t just have dangerous consequences.

“The penalties for court if you’re found guilty – exactly the same between drug impairment or alcohol impairment. There’s no difference whatsoever in North Carolina,” said Officer O’Callaghan.

Before getting behind the wheel, read the medication label and consult with your doctor. If you’re taking a new prescription, doctors warn you should never drive until you know how your body reacts to the medication.

WNCT-TV 9 On Your Side provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s