Although we have made progress in the fight against drunk driving, there has been a rapid increase in another kind of impaired driving that causes thousands of accidents and deaths each year: drugged driving. With states continuing to legalize marijuana, and the country seeing a shocking rise in drug-related overdoses, the timing of a new report regarding this issue couldn't have been more vital.
The report, Drug-Impaired Driving: A Guide for States, was recently released by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (Responsibility.org). The comprehensive update of their 2015 report shares the latest research, data, programs, and laws with states involving the national problem. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), drug are present in 43% of drivers that are involved in fatal car crashes. While this number is shocking in itself, what surprised researchers the most is that the percentage of drug-related crashes far exceeded that of alcohol-related crashes for the first time since data began being collected.
Despite all of the new statistics and information included in the GHSA’s report, most of the basic advice remains unchanged. Some of the strongest recommendations the report gives states is to increase training for law enforcement officers, in order to help them better identify drug-impaired drivers, and to form a statewide task force whose goal is to develop a strategic plan for the issue. The report also addresses the need for states to prioritize accurate and timely data collection in order to be able to investigate causes of accidents more efficiently.
Dr. Jim Hedlund, author of the GHSA report, stated, “Drugged driving is a complicated issue. The more we can synthesize the latest research and share what’s going on around the country to address drug-impaired driving, the better positioned states will be to prevent it.”