Drunk Driving Going Down, Drugged Driving Going Up, Study Shows

The good news is that the number of cases when drivers are getting drunk behind the wheel has decreased during the last period of time. Unfortunately, according to a recent roadside survey released by NHTSA, more drivers are caught driving under the influence of other substances, the most common being marijuana. “I’m pleased to see that our battle against drunk driving is succeeding,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement for the press. “However, alcohol still kills 13,000 people a year on our roads and we must continue to be vigilant in our efforts to prevent drunk driving.” The result showed 16,3 percent of nighttime weekend drivers were drug positive. The NHTSA used new methods to test weekend nighttime drivers and found that the drugs used most commonly by drivers were: marijuana (8,6 percent); cocaine (3,9 percent); and over-the-counter and prescription drugs (3,9 percent).
“This troubling data shows us, for the first time, the scope of drugged driving in America, and reinforces the need to reduce drug abuse,” said Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. “Drugged driving, like drunk driving, is a matter of public safety and health. It puts us all at risk and must be prevented.”

Though 12 states have already made it illegal to get behind the wheel with any detectable level of a prohibited substance in the driver’s blood, as reported by, other states are considering it a crime only if it "renders the driver incapable of driving safely."

Therefore, the NHTSA is committed to continuing its research and, if the results will indicate that drugs pose the same type of traffic safety risk as alcohol, it will apply the same penalties as in drunk driving.


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories