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Office of the National Drug Control Policy

White House Drug Policy Director Announces New Tool to Address Threat of Drugged Driving on America’s Roadways

Office of National Drug Control Policy, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Roll Out Training Course to Improve Law Enforcement Officers’ Ability to Detect Drugged Driving

(San Diego, CA) – Today, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy and President Obama’s top drug policy advisor, announced a new training tool designed to enhance the ability of law enforcement officers across the country to identify symptoms of driver impairment by drugs or drugs in combination with alcohol on our Nation’s roadways. The online course, developed jointly by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), was announced during remarks delivered at the annual meeting of the Governors Highway Safety Association in San Diego, CA.

The online Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) program will train law enforcement personnel on how to observe, identify, and describe the signs of impairment related to drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both. The course will also help other public safety officials, including prosecutors, toxicologists, and judges, understand the signs of impairment to improve their ability to prosecute drugged drivers. The course was originally developed by NHTSA with input from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), Technical Advisory Panel (TAP), and the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police.  The new online version is now being made available as a result of additional funding from ONDCP.  Law enforcement agencies interested in utilizing the course at no cost can visit the Transportation Safety Institute training site at http://tsilearn.dot.gov/login.aspx to register.    

Recent surveys indicate a troubling picture regarding the prevalence of drugged driving in the United States. A nationally representative survey by 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 2011 Monitoring the Future Study reported driving after smoking marijuana within two weeks prior to the survey interview.

“Drugged driving is far more prevalent than many people realize,” said Director Kerlikowske. “Research clearly demonstrates that drugs, including many of those prescribed by a physician, can impair perception, judgment, motor skills, and memory – all vital skills necessary for safe driving. We need to apply the same grassroots focus and advocacy that have proven successful in reducing drunk driving to help prevent drugged driving today. We hope that in a time of tight budgets, this online resource will equip more public safety officials across the country and improve public safety on our Nation’s roadways.”

“Motorists should be able to drive without fear of other drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs jeopardizing their safety,” said Administrator David L. Strickland, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.   “The training offered by the ARIDE program will help law enforcement and the criminal justice system increase detection and prosecution of drug-impaired driving cases - ultimately saving lives and preventing injuries on our nation’s roadways.” 

The launch of the ARIDE online tool builds upon previously announced Administration efforts to combat the Nation’s drugged driving problem and reduce both the prevalence and consequences of drug use in America. In April, the Obama Administration released a science-based drug policy that views the national drug challenge as a public health issue, not just a criminal justice issue. The 2013 National Drug Control Strategy draws from the latest scientific research demonstrating that addiction is a chronic disease of the brain that can be successfully prevented, treated, and from which one can recover. As a result, the Strategy directs Federal agencies to expand community-based efforts to prevent drug use before it begins, empower healthcare workers to intervene early at the first signs of a substance use disorder, expand access to treatment for those who need it, support “smart on crime” initiatives, and support the millions of Americans in recovery.

 

For more information, visit www.WhiteHouse.gov/ONDCP

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