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WBNS-10TV Columbus, Ohio | Columbus News, Weather & Sports |

Law enforcement targets growing threat of drugged drivers

The Ohio Department of Transportation says the number of drug related crashes on Ohio roads increased 40 percent between 2012 and 2014.

The Ohio Department of Transportation says drug impaired drivers are a growing danger on the roads.

ODOT traffic crash data shows between 2012 and 2016, the number of drug-related crashes on Ohio roads increased nearly 40-percent, and the number of deadly crashes involving drugs nearly doubled.

The Ohio Highway Patrol said troopers have administered Narcan, a drug that reverses the effect of an opiate overdose, to victims who were behind the wheel just moments before they overdosed.

"We're starting to get an accurate picture right now of how many people are driving around impaired by drugs, and we're also seeing the increase of people driving around impaired by drugs. It's scary," said Sgt. Adam Burke.

In 2013, ODOT reported 271 drug-impaired crashes in Franklin County. By 2015, that number spiked to 352. It's nearly a 34 percent increase. The Ohio Highway Patrol says from January 1 to June 1 of 2017, troopers arrested 14,850 people statewide for OVI. 3,000 of those drivers, nearly 20 percent, were drug impaired.

Tuesday, AAA hosted a summit in Columbus for law enforcement, prosecutors, and health experts to discuss the growing threat of drug-impaired drivers on Ohio's roads, and generate ideas on how to reduce the threat.

CrimeTracker 10 has learned law enforcement is doubling efforts to put more Drug Recognition Experts on the roads.

In the past two years, the number of officers trained to recognize the signs of a drugged driver has doubled from 107 to 208.

The highway patrol says the goal is to stop and arrest drug impaired drivers before they injure themselves, or someone else, heading down the highway.