Drugged Driving

Americans are all-too familiar with the terrible consequences of drunk driving. We also are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of driving with distractions such as text messaging or talking on a cell phone. Working with the Department of Transportation (DOT) and other Federal agencies, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is taking steps to highlight the growing problem of drugged driving.

Overview

The National Drug Control Strategy includes a goal of reducing drugged driving in the United States 10% by the year 2015. Specifically, ONDCP aims to make preventing drugged driving a national priority on par with preventing drunk driving. To work toward this goal, the Strategy calls for:

  • Encouraging states to adopt Per Se drug impairment laws;
  • Collecting further data on drugged driving;
  • Enhancing prevention of drugged driving by education communities and professionals;
  • Providing increased training to law enforcement on identifying drugged drivers; and
  • Developing standard screening methodologies for drug-testing labs to use in detecting the presence of drugs.

Research

It is well known that drugs, even those prescribed by a physician, can impair perception, judgment, motor skills, and memory. Recent surveys have shown how pervasive drugged driving has become in the United States.

The National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers, a nationally representative survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), found that in 2007, approximately one in eight weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for illicit drugs. Moreover, approximately one in eight high school seniors responding to the 2010 Monitoring the Future Study (MTF) reported driving after smoking marijuana within two weeks prior to the survey interview. These results highlight the scope of drugged driving in America and reinforce the importance of reducing all drug abuse.

Drug Testing and Drug-Involved Driving of Fatally Injured Drivers in the United States: 2005-2009 (PDF)
An ONDCP analysis of 2009 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) census, which shows that roughly one in four (23 percent) of fatally injured drivers who tested positive for drugs were under the age of 25.  Additionally, based on data from 2005 to 2009, almost half (42 percent) of fatally injured drivers who tested positive for marijuana were under the age of 25.

Drug Involvement of Fatally Injured Drivers (a 2010 NHTSA fact sheet)
The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), a census of fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes in the United States, contains a number of variables to describe drug involvement for those in fatal crashes. Overall, 3,952 fatally injured drivers tested positive for drug involvement in 2009.

Drugged Driving Research: A White Paper (PDF)
The Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc. (IBH), with support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and ONDCP, developed a white paper that summarizes the information currently available about drugged driving and provides a perspective regarding future research needs. IBH convened an expert committee to develop this report, which included top leaders across a broad spectrum of related disciplines such as research, public policy, and law enforcement.

What You Can Do

Drugged driving poses threats to public safety, as evidenced by the number of fatal crashes each year on our Nation's highways. Here are some things you can do to encourage safe driving:

Activity Guide

Teen Drugged Driving: A Community Awareness Activity Toolkit (PDF)
This toolkit provides coalitions, prevention groups and parent organizations with: the facts on the dangers and extent of teen and young adult drugged driving; parent and community activities for effective prevention; resources to further assist in prevention activates.

Partner Programs

Successful substance-abuse prevention programs, combined with public education and penalties for those who fail to comply with the law, will continue to receive support in the effort to reduce the public safety threat of drugged driving. Here are some programs from our Federal partners:

  • The Drug Evaluation and Classification program (DEC) (Department of Transportation) – A program that aids State and local jurisdictions in detecting and arresting drugged drivers and provides training to prosecutors and judges in the prosecution of drugged drivers.
  • Drug-Free Communities Support program (DFC)  – Funding hundreds of coalitions around the country, the DFC program helps communities identify and respond to local substance abuse issues.
  • National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign  – A campaign aimed at preventing and reducing youth drug use across the country by increasing teen exposure to anti-drug messages with a highly visible national media presence and on-the-ground activities, including a number of free online resources to help prevent drugged, drunk, and distracted driving among teenagers.

Resources