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Is 'huffing' the new distracted driving trend?

When you hear the term "huffing" your imagination might present you with a picture of a young boy in a back alley somewhere sniffing glue or gasoline fumes out of a bag. That's the stereotype we seem to have for this form of chemical abuse.

It's not an activity we hear that much about in Texas these days. But there are indications that it is still a significant problem nationally. In fact, some call inhalant abuse the latest trend in driver distraction -- one that is resulting in more and more car accidents leaving behind victims of serious or fatal injuries.

And the practice isn't one that's limited to elementary school kids. According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, more than half of all the patients they saw in the emergency room in 2011 were adults. And the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says 2014 data shows the problem is spread broadly across many age brackets.

One recent story out of Duncan, Oklahoma, offers a glimpse of how apparently addictive huffing can be and the kind of potential hazards it could pose on the road.

That report tells of a young 18-year-old male who was arrested by police after being found passed out in his vehicle in a commercial parking lot one Saturday morning. The police report says he had a can of computer air duster in his lap. He was charged with being in control of a vehicle under the influence of drugs.

He was allowed to call someone for a ride later that day and was released. He is also said to have pledged to officers that he would stop inhaling air duster. Yet, an hour later, police were called to respond to a call about a man passed out at the wheel of his car at an intersection. It was allegedly the same young man at the wheel of the same car from that morning.

As it happens, a good Samaritan had come along and was trying to get the driver and his car out of harm's way. Police arrested the young man again after finding additional air duster cans in the car.

These incidents didn't end in an accident, but they easily could have -- all because of an aerosol product that can be bought almost anywhere by anybody.

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