Although illegal in all 50 states, impaired driving is a growing epidemic affecting our nation. With the opioid epidemic and rise in legalization of marijuana, safety and law enforcement officials are being called to action to ensure our roads and communities stay safe. Drug-impaired driving is a complicated problem. There are 430 specific drugs or metabolites to test for, limited crash data, and impairment can be difficult to measure.
In January of this year, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced it is launching a new initiative to combat drug-impaired driving. NHTSA is hoping to develop creative solutions and set a course of action to address this complicated problem.
The first step in the initiative was the Drug Impaired Driving Kick-Off Summit (Summit), held in March. The Summit began with NHTSA Deputy Administrator, Heidi King, sharing her own experience as an emergency medical technician where she witnessed the effects of this epidemic firsthand.
The Summit hosted more than 150 attendees from federal, state, and local governments; non-profits; and vehicle manufacturers from across the country. Speakers discussed the scope of the problem and current best practices for educating the public, collecting data, and enforcing laws. Summit participants were asked to brainstorm the problem and its complexity, as well as the diverse community it affects. The Summit’s major topics included communication, health and medical, law enforcement, prosecution, science, state law, and more.
The Summit closed by reviewing the suggestions and taking comments. The interactive sessions can be viewed online.
Facts courtesy of GHSA, Drug-Impaired Driving: A Guide for States, 2017 Update