BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – The drug epidemic is affecting so many families in Ohio with more Ohioans dying from drug overdoses than car crashes.
Now, drugs are creating a different danger and that’s behind the wheel.
Ohio State Highway Patrol Sgt. Erik Golias said drug-impaired driving is rapidly catching alcohol-impaired driving when it comes to impaired crashes and driving arrests.
As of May 29 in Mahoning County, there have been 145 drug violations, compared to 98 at this time in 2016.
Statewide, there were 4,149 drug-related crashes, with 153 fatalities in 2015. Numbers through October 2016 show a drop in drug-related crashes, but there were 163 fatalities.
Those are scary statistics for those who drive in Ohio.
“It makes me scared because I have a daughter, and it makes me wonder… even with us being in a car, are we safe?” said Anna Day, of Youngstown.
Impaired driving involves illegal drugs but it also covers legal prescription drugs. Troopers say these can be just as powerful.
Professional golfer Tiger Woods attributed an DUI arrest to an “unexpected reaction” to prescription medicine. Police said Woods was asleep at the wheel on the side of the road with his engine running. His speech was slow and slurred, though there was no alcohol in his system and he didn’t know how far away he was from home.
“A lot of times, people believe they are not doing anything wrong because they are taking their prescriptions as medicated,” Sgt. Golias said.
Highway Patrol said if a driver suspects someone may be under the influence of drugs behind the wheel, they can dial #667.
“Sometimes, people don’t even realize that the smallest report can ultimately save hundreds,” Sgt. Golias said.
Golias said people who are addicted to drugs are constantly seeking a high. That high becomes normal to them and they may not even realize their level of impairment.