Sara Bellum
August 25 2009

Okay, say you’re at a party. The friends you came with have been drinking, but you haven’t. When it’s time to head home, you’re nervous—you’ve heard all about drunk driving and how dangerous it is. So, what would you do to protect yourself and your friends?  Do you have a plan to deal with situations like this?

Now, what would you do if your friends had been smoking pot instead of drinking? It turns out “drugged driving” can be just as dangerous. Someone who’s been smoking pot or doing other drugs puts everyone at risk, including themselves, when they get behind the wheel. They have slower reflexes and so can’t respond as well in an emergency. In fact, if you look at car crashes where the driver is killed, about 1 in 5 involves drugs other than alcohol (like marijuana).

Usually, drugged drivers have been drinking alcohol, too—making them doubly dangerous on the road. Research shows that driving under the influence of both marijuana and alcohol is riskier than with alcohol or marijuana alone.

Look, it’s hard to go against the group. But the last thing we want to do is see our friends get hurt, arrested, or even killed. So, what can we do?

Here are some ideas:

  • Stay smart and speak up. Remember that the effects of marijuana and alcohol last for hours, so even if your friends haven’t had a drink in a while, it could still be dangerous for them to drive. If you are in a healthy state of mind and have your driver’s licence on you, ask for the keys and get the group home safely.
  • Find another ride. Try to find another sober friends to give you a lift.
  • Call someone to pick you up. Okay, so you might not want to call Mom or Dad to get you from a party; but chances are, they’ll be happier that you called them rather than put yourself in a dangerous situation. You also could call another family member.
  • Crash at the host’s house. If possible, wait it out until morning and stay put. Just make sure to let someone know where you are and that you are safe.

The best advice: Plan ahead. If you know people will be drinking, pick a “designated driver” before you head out. Better yet, throw your own booze-free bash!

Read more facts and stats about impaired driving.

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