Experts seeks solutions to drugged driving in Blue Ash summit meeting

AAA: Drugs considered a bigger issue than alcohol
Posted at 10:55 AM, Jun 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-14 06:52:58-04

CINCINNATI -- A survey conducted by AAA found that Tri-State motorists now view drugged drivers as a larger threat than drunken drivers.

Of those surveyed, about 74 percent of motorists think those who drive after using illegal drugs pose a very serious threat to their safety. However, 71 percent view those who drive after drinking alcohol as a very serious threat to their safety.

The survey was released to correspond with the nation’s first regional Drugged Driving Summit from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 14 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Blue Ash. The summit will bring together police officers, educators, toxicologists, physicians and judges throughout the Tri-State.

The meeting will discuss the recent legalization of medicinal marijuana in Ohio and the soaring rates of opioid drug use in the area and the danger of driving impaired.

Jake Nelson, AAA's director of traffic safety advocacy and research, is in town for Tuesday's summit and said more people die in drug overdoses now in the United States than do in traffic crashes. He added that it's the first time in history that we’ve been able to say that. 

“Policymakers are really painting the plane as we fly it when we start talking about legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational use around this country," Nelson said. "They have - trying to do the right thing - borrowed from alcohol-impaired driving, how we’ve tried to tackle this issue through public policy, and apply it to a very different drug that behaves very differently in our bodies.”

The Ohio Department of the Public Safety’s Traffic Safety Office awarded a $20,000 federal traffic safety grant to hold the summit. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provided additional funding.