ORLANDO, Fla. – The Florida Highway Patrol has changed its crash report template so it can document drivers who may be under the influence of drugs and causing crashes. News 6 reporter Erik von Anken reported on the change in November 2017.
Last year, a driver barreled into a bus late with a needle in his hand and white powder--or opioids--on the floor, according to FHP officials. Afterwards, News 6 pushed to ask the Department of Motor Vehicles why state-issued crash reports weren't keeping track of different drugs
, involved in crashes, especially with the opioid epidemic ongoing.
"I can tell you three or four times off the top of my head, when I was an active trooper, you show up on a crash scene and someone is sleeping, so you think behind the wheel, meanwhile they just OD'd 10 minutes prior," News 6 safety traffic expert Steven Montiero said.
Montiero said the opioid crisis is spreading to the roads and more drivers are driving high or getting high in their cars. Law enforcement is trained to spot specific drug use and then confirm the suspected use with blood tests.
Despite that, the state-issued crash report didn't allow troopers to keep track of the drugs they saw on duty.
"The growing problem is that we see so many types of substances that are influencing people, and law enforcement wasn't keeping track of it. Now, thanks to a lot of your reporting, we're seeing reports change overnight now," Montiero said.
After the investigation, the Department of Motor Vehicles added a second page to crash reports with space to notate the use of cocaine, amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, PCP and opiates.
This option will allow statistics to be easily searchable for future use.
"And I think a year, two years from now, this data's going to be there. We can show, look (at) what kind of problem we're facing," Montiero said.
As the opioid epidemic continues to proliferate communities, News 6 spoke to Orlando police, who responded to five overdose deaths over five days. All officers with the department carry Narcan.