The dangers of driving whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol have been widely publicised. Police are often patrolling the roads to crackdown on drunk drivers and other drug-related offences, in an attempt to keep the streets safe and to prevent fatal car accidents.
Officers in every state of Australia perform drug tests, yet until now there had been a lack of conclusive evidence that heavy methamphetamine use impairs a person’s driving ability.
Fortunately the University of Sydney recently conducted a study that provides the first clinical evidence for this association.
Dr David Bosanquet from the University’s School of Psychology said that this research has been a long time coming, and that he believes there should be more investigation into drugs and driving.
“In stark contrast to the wealth of research on drinking and driving safely there hasn’t been any clinical research comparing responses between heavily drugged meth users and non drug-using drivers in lifelike driving scenarios,” he said in a statement issued last week (August 2).
It is estimated that approximately 500,000 or more Australians use meth. Apparently use is more common among young men, and it is also a problem in the commercial truck driving industry, where motorists take the substance to try and stay awake during long hauls.
To come to their conclusions, researchers analysed the driving habits of two groups of people – current meth users (volunteers) and non drug users.
The participants had to sit in a real car which was situated in a laboratory, but the driving was computer-simulated.
Throughout the exercise, the drivers had to stop at traffic lights, wait for pedestrians and other simple tasks.
The researchers then analysed their performances, and found that the meth users were more likely to speed, take risks and weave from side to side.
Dr Bosanquet said that these results were a promising “first step” to building on the scientific evidence behind drug driving laws.
“Since roadside drug testing was first implemented millions of dollars have been spent to test, charge, and sentence those found guilty. It’s important to understand the science behind this sort of initiative and this is the first step,” he said.
If you or a family member are ever involved in a car accident and the other driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, then you may be eligible for compensation.
There are lawyers in Sydney who can speak with you about your circumstances and help you make a claim should you be eligible.