Drink, drugs and nitrous oxide

When we talk about impaired driving most people automatically think of alcohol and drug use. The two staple causes of impairment when it comes to driving. Some people may look at phone use by drivers as being impairment too. Whether drink or drugs the outcome is the same. The drivers reactions are slowed, their ability to control the vehicle is diminished and their observations vanish. The outcome is often fatal and, in many cases, not for the impaired driver but for other road users.

So what is nitrous oxide? It’s a chemical compound, an oxide of nitrogen and commonly known as laughing gas. It has three main legitimate uses;

  • To numb pain during medical procedures
  • In engines to increase power output
  • In whipped cream canisters and some food packaging options to prevent food going off

So what has all this go to do with road safety? Nitrous oxide has become popular with some people as it gives the user a high. They feel euphoric and relaxed and often gives people the giggles.. hence it often being referred to as laughing gas. If inhaled it impairs a person’s ability to function normally and has huge implications if that person goes on to drive.

The article below illustrates how bad this can be. The driver was using nitrous oxide whilst driving and inhaling it from balloons using a cracking device that was also found in his van. He was driving at excess speeds and police also found evidence of mobile phone use whilst driving. Can there be a worse combination than an impaired driver who is speeding and using a phone? He was involved in a collision with another car and killed both the occupants. He has been jailed for 9 years for death by dangerous driving.

Full article in the Independent

Image: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

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