TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - For the first time ever, AAA hosted the "Northwest Ohio Drugged-Driving Forum" to help battle the epidemic hitting the region.
"AAA is a longtime advocate for the safety of motorists and we can't think of a greater threat on the roads today than drugged-driving," said Cheryl Parker, the AAA regional director of public and government affairs. "It's a problem that has very unique challenges from the road side to the court room, so by bringing all of the key stakeholders together we can begin a very important conversation, share resources and collaborate on solutions."
One of those stakeholders who spoke at the forum is Dr. Robert Forney, the Chief Toxicologist of the Lucas County's Coroner's office who is also a national expert on drugged-driving.
"Well most people know that we have a heroin epidemic but probably what most people don't think about is that the people that are addicted also drive," Dr. Forney said. "In Lucas County there are more than 10,000 addicts and so there are a lot of people out on the road and unlike alcohol where people are mostly driving impaired late at night, with the Heroin epidemic these people are driving to go buy, after they buy. They are withdrawing as they're going to go get it. They have a rush then they're on the nod and they're impaired. And it's 24/7. It's at any time of the day," Dr. Forney said.
Like AAA, Dr. Forney has been a part of countless forums about the topic touring all over the country.
"It's a top priority for our national organization," Parker said.
According to Dr. Forney, in the city of Toledo alone, there have been 1,600 uses of Narcan in 2016, but he estimates that the number could even be higher.
"This conference today is people who are involved in this. Stakeholders – helping them to understand the problem and what we can do to help," he said.