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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: Jennifer de Vallance / Tom Riley 202–395–6618
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 hazard:

  • 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."

For more information visit www.theantidrug.com

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