FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: Jennifer de Vallance / Tom Riley 2023956618
Tuesday, November 19, 2002
WHITE HOUSE DRUG CZAR LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN TO STOP DRUGGED DRIVING PROBLEM IS WORSE THAN MOST REALIZE:
8 MILLION DRIVERS UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS LAST YEAR
(Washington, D.C.)John P. Walters, Director of National Drug Control
Policy (ONDCP), today announced a White House collaborative effort to reduce
drugged driving on American roads. Director Walters was joined by representatives
of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the AAA Foundation
for Traffic Safety, and the family of a drugged driving victim, to raise public
awareness of the problem of drugged driving.
Director Walters said, "While the consequences of drunk driving have become
well known over the past 20 years, drugged driving has received relatively
limited attention. We have solid data regarding the prevalence and seriousness
of impaired driving. America already loses too many lives to drivers who are
under the influence of alcohol, we cannot allow a lack of public awareness
to contribute to the deaths of more innocent motorists."
Data indicate that drugged driving has become a significant public safety
According to NHTSA, illegal drugs are used by approximately 10 to 22
percent of drivers involved in all motor vehicle crashes
The 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse indicates that an estimated eight
million adults drove under the influence of an illicit drug at some
time in the past year
The New England Journal of Medicine published results from a roadside
study of reckless drivers (not impaired by alcohol) in which 45 percent tested
positive for marijuana.
A Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) survey of middle and high
school students revealed that 68 percent of licensed teen drivers
who use drugs regularly reported that they also drive while under the influence
of illegal drugs
More than half of the teens who reported using illegal drugs also
indicated that they were not concerned about riding with a driver who is
using illegal drugs
To increase awareness of the problem of drugged driving, ONDCP unveiled two
new television advertisements that will begin airing in January. ONDCP, NHTSA,
and AAA also announced their support of increased resources for state and local
law enforcement officers and prosecutors, including a model policy that provides
states a framework for drugged driving legislation, and development of new
technologies to identify drug-impaired drivers in the field.
NHTSA, responsible for training more than 5,500 police officers in 35 states
as Drug Recognition Experts, announced that it is mobilizing a major enforcement
initiative during December, which is National Drugged and Drunk Driving Prevention
Month. Next month's activities, which will include sobriety checkpoints and
saturation patrols, mark the start of a year-long effort by NHTSA to increase
public awareness of the risks of drugged and drunk driving.
Director Walters concluded, "Our national experience in reducing drunk driving
tells us that we can make a difference; when we apply technology, enforcement,
and education, we prevent this destructive behavior that takes away too many
innocent lives each year."