Office of the Director, ONDCP
December 2, 2010
Yesterday, President Obama declared December as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, and called on all Americans to recommit to preventing the loss of life by practicing safe driving practices and reminding others to be sober, drug free, and safe on the road.
Each year thousands of drivers and passengers tragically lose their lives because of drunk, drugged, or distracted driving. Impaired driving and its consequences can seriously alter or even destroy lives in a moment. This reckless behavior not only includes drunk driving, but also the growing problem of drugged driving. Drugs, including those prescribed by a physician, can impair judgment and motor skills. It is critical that young people and fellow citizens are encouraged to make responsible decisions when driving or riding as a passenger, especially if drug use is apparent.
According to the first-ever analysis of drug involvement from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration's Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS) census, one in three motor vehicle fatalities (33 percent) with known drug test results tested positive for drugs in 2009. And in a 2007 NHTSA Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers, 1 in 8 nighttime weekend drivers tested positive for an illicit drug. This number rises to 1 in 6 when you include illicit drugs and pharmaceuticals. Additionally, according to the most recent Monitoring the Future report—the Nation's largest survey of drug use among young people—one in ten high school seniors reported that in the two weeks prior to the survey they had driven after smoking marijuana.
President Obama has made combating drugged driving a drug control strategy priority and has set a goal of reducing drugged driving prevalence by 10 percent by 2015. To achieve this goal, the Obama Administration is encouraging states to explore legal responses, such as per se laws that make it illegal for individuals to drive with illicit drugs in their system. Already, 17 states in the United States have per se or zero tolerance statutes. In these states, it is a criminal offense to have an illegal drug in one's body while driving. Additionally, ONDCP is providing increased training to law enforcement to identify drugged drivers and is working with the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to develop standard screening methodologies for drug-testing labs to use in detecting the presence of drugs among drivers.
Find the complete Proclamation on The White House Web site.