We all know about the effects of alcohol on driving skills, but we should also be more aware of the effects of drugs behind the wheel.
For years, it was considered macho to be able to drink and drive, and the habit was lionized in many movies. Even up until a few years ago, no one thought twice about saying good night to the life of the party, who - two sheets to the wind - weaved his way out to the parking lot to drive home.
But, thanks to the efforts of groups like MADD, mothers against drunken drivers, the police, insurance companies, health agencies (and even some beer and alcohol companies!) the community's view of the amusing drunk starting up his automobile has changed radically. Now there have been many cases where a host or bartender who over-served the drunk can be sued by the victim of a tragedy caused by the drunken driver. as a result, this whole subject is taken a lot more seriously - as it should be.
More than alcohol can impair a driver, a lot of drugs can too, even the common cold and cough remedies. Dr. Bhushan Kapur, director of clinical laboratories for the Addiction Research Foundation (now part of the Center for Addiction and Mental Health ), was one of the physicians involved in a two year study on this subject. 450 critically injured patients were tested with both blood and urine samples in Toronto's Sunnybrook Medical Centre's regional trauma unit, and an alarming 61% of them had taken one or more drugs before their accident. Almost a third of them had taken two or more drugs, including alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, barbiturates, and other narcotics. Prescription drugs such as tranquillizers, and cold remedies, such as antihistamines, were also discovered in many cases. Alcohol, in combination with even the mildest over-the-counter medicines, can greatly magnify the impairment even more.
Here's an action tip:
We've indeed come a long way in our attitude to the drunk driver, although the problem is far from over. But even if you are not drunk, but have a mild fever and have just taken a cough or cold medication, it would be a good idea to let a companion, or a taxi driver do the driving for you.
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