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Ohio Summit Hopes To Quell Increase In Drugged Driving

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Joint Base Langley-Eustis
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State transportation officials say the number of "drugged driving" crashes in Ohio increased by about 20 percent from 2013 to 2016.

Safety and transportation officials on Tuesday are hosting a drugged driving summit, which organizers call part of an effort to curb an increase in drugged driving fueled by the state’s opiate epidemic.

Just how much is drugged driving increasing in Ohio? 

“Back in 2013, there were just about 3,800 drugged driving crashes. If you look at last year, that number’s jumped to 4,615," says Ohio Department of Transportation spokesman Matt Bruning.

One of the biggest issues with drugged driving, Bruning says, is that it happens during daytime hours more frequently than drunk driving, which is most common during evening and overnight hours. Bruning says that puts more drivers in harm's way.

ODOT is hosting the summit along with auto club AAA and public safety officials, who get vocational credits for classes that deal with topics including drugged driving research, how to spot drugged drivers, and concerns about Ohio’s incoming medical marijuana program. 

“It’s fueled by opiates, but it’s also the legalization of marijuana, whether it’s recreational or even medicinal," says AAA spokeswoman Kimberly Schwind.  "So that legalization has played a role in the number of drugged driving crashes that we’ve seen on the roadways.”

State and federal officials held Ohio’s first drugged driving summit in Cincinnati last year.