CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – As many will be hitting the road for the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Ohio State Highway Patrol is seeing a sobering statistic – roughly one in every three crashes involving an impaired driver in Mahoning and Trumbull counties is tied to drug use.
At the Canfield Highway Patrol post, there are two drug recognition experts that help troopers identify drug-impaired drivers.
One of them is Trooper David Brown who went through a 120-hour course to receive his certification. Now, in addition to his regular equipment, he carries a backpack of specialized gear.
“We carry blood pressure cuff, also we’ll take body temperature…and we use a pupilometer to check pupil size,” Brown said.
There are several tests motorists could be given during a traffic stop, including agility tests like closing their eyes for 30 seconds.
Brown says he also checks for other signs of drug use whether it is from opiates, stimulants or even prescribed drugs that could cause impairment, such as Xanax.
There are certain signs to look for to spot an impaired driver:
- Failure to turn headlines on at night
- Illegal or sudden turning
- Turning within an unusually wide radius
- Nearly hitting other cars or objects
- Sudden or erratic braking
- Drifting, swerving or weaving
- Driving with their face close to the windshield
- Drinking alcohol in the vehicle
- Driving much slower than the posted speed limit
- Rapidly accelerating
- Driving in the middle of the road or with the left tires on the center line
- Responding slowly to traffic signals
Brown says these drivers aren’t just on the roads at night.
“These are the people that are out in the daytime,” he said. “The 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., to 7 p.m. That’s when the main portion of these drug-impaired drivers are out there. That’s when our kids are going to school, you’re going to work.”
That’s when a couple was arrested in East Liverpool in September. Police said they were overdosing at the time, with the woman’s 4-year-old grandson in the car with them, when they nearly hit a school bus.
“We’re seeing a rise in drivers where they’re passed out at intersections,” Brown said. “They just nod off at the intersection and they don’t wake up for the light. That’s when we get the call. We come back and sometimes their foot slips off the brake, they crash, or sometimes they just stay in the intersection exactly where they were and cars start going around them.”
With the holidays approaching, troopers will use federal funds to help cover overtime so they can keep a close eye out to get those drivers off the roads.
Troopers are urging anyone who sees a possible impaired driver to dial #677 on their cell phone to report it.