Traffic Safety Initiatives: Current Issues in Drug-Impaired Driving

The 2013-2014 National Roadside Study of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers revealed an encouraging trend of declining alcohol use by drivers. The data collected by this study, along with the overall decline in alcohol-related fatalities documented by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System, demonstrate promising evidence that “drunk driving” education and enforcement initiatives are creating positive change While it is encouraging that the survey found only 8.3 percent of drivers were positive for alcohol, law enforcement should take note that researchers found over 20 percent of weekend nighttime drivers tested positive for at least one drug other than alcohol—an increase from the 16.3 percent in 2007. These drugs included, among others, cannabis, sedatives, narcotics, stimulants, and antidepressants. As can be expected from recent legislative changes in many U.S. states, the drug with the sharpest increase in use was cannabis. Weekend nighttime drivers who tested positive for the drug leapt from 8.6 percent in 2007 to 12.6 percent in the 2013–2014 study.