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Directions in Highway Safety Cover - Fall 2011 Download Newsletter pdf
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Fall 2011 | Vol. 13 | No. 3

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Drugged Driving Draws Attention

Drug-impai red driving has been the focus of increased attention recently. Both state and national data indicate that more Americans are getting behind the wheel while under the influence something other than – or in addition to – alcohol. As a result, states, the federal government, and researchers have all been working to address this growing problem.

GHSA recently strengthened its drugged driving policy to support elevating the issue to a national priority. Specifically, the new policy encourages states to: establish distinct sanctions for drug-impaired driving; develop standard drug testing protocols; provide additional training to help law enforcement better identify drug-impaired drivers; increase the drug testing of fatally injured drivers; and provide training to help prosecutors successfully indict drug-impaired drivers. The GHSA membership voted to approve these policy changes during the 2011 GHSA Annual Meeting, held September 25-28 in Cincinnati.

Close up of pills

The federal government has been focusing on the issue of drugged driving as well. Working with the Department of Transportation (DOT) and other federal agencies, the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has been highlighting this growing problem.

On October 14, ONDCP hosted a meeting of federal partners and stakeholders, including GHSA, to discuss how to work together to prevent drugged driving. Additionally, ONDCP announced a new national partnership with MADD to develop educational messaging and support efforts to assist victims of drugged driving.

Finally, a recent research study indicates that drivers who use marijuana may double their risk of getting into a crash. The study, published in the medical journal Epidemiologic Reviews, examined information from nine prior studies in six counties, reviewing the rates of marijuana use and motor vehicle crashes. None of these studies focused directly on medical marijuana, which is now legal in 16 states and the District of Columbia.

Eight of the nine studies showed a higher risk of crashes associated with drivers who use marijuana. In fact, the overall crash risk was nearly 2.7 times higher among marijuana users. Study authors suggest more research is necessary to better define crash risk as it relates to different doses, strengths, and administration methods, such as smoking versus vaporization.

Get GHSA’s drugged driving policy at Learn about ONDCP’s drugged driving initiatives at And access the abstract of the Epidemiologic Reviews article at