Driving under the influence of alcohol is involved in nearly one in three road deaths, and the problem of being behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol and other drugs — alone or in combination — continues to wreak havoc on the country’s roads.
To address the ongoing hurdle, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) conducted a study, officially released earlier this month, that examined the crash risk of several drugs, including alcohol, cannabis, over-the-counter and other drugs. and the prevalence of its use among motorists.
“Restricted driving leads to tragedies on our country’s roads every day, but it doesn’t have to be,” Jennifer Homendy, the chair of the Federal Security Service, said in a statement. “To create a truly safe system — one in which bad driving is a relic of the past — states and federal agencies must quickly implement our recommendations. Further complacency is unforgivable.”
“Alcohol, Other Drugs, and Multiple Drug Use Among Drivers” aims to identify actions needed by federal and state agencies to address the growing problem of drunk driving, including alcohol, cannabis, and multiple drug use. The report also discusses countermeasures to reduce disability-related accidents.
During the analysis, the researchers found that alcohol remains the most commonly found drug in traffic accidents, followed by cannabis. They also found that while alcohol is most often detected alone, cannabis is most often identified in combination with alcohol or other drugs.
The report said current testing practices and protocols need to be improved to ensure more accurate detection and reporting of incidents when drivers use drugs behind the wheel. For example, many jurisdictions stop testing when a driver’s blood alcohol concentration exceeds a certain threshold, which can result in the loss of important information about other drugs the driver may have consumed.
Improving the uniformity of drug testing is also essential, the report said. A lack of standardized drug testing and reporting, “hamperes understanding of the problem and the development of policies that can reduce drunk driving, as well as treatment options for those with substance abuse.”
The NTSB identified the following safety needs to prevent accidents caused by disabled drivers:
- implement proven countermeasures for drunk driving;
- addressing the growing problems of driving under the influence of cannabis, other drugs and multiple drugs;
- improve driving laws and drug enforcement;
- ensure driving safety is taken into account in the assessment of prescription and over-the-counter drugs; and
- improving systems for documenting and tracking drug use and driving.
The report also made 12 new recommendations:
- a requirement that cannabis products carry a warning label about driving restrictions;
- improvements to state drug-driving laws;
- standardization of toxicological testing for detecting drug use; and
- research on how to improve compliance with traffic-related warnings about possible adverse effects on prescription and over-the-counter medicines
“We’ve known about the devastating effects of drink-driving for a long time, but this report shows that the deterioration of other drugs, especially cannabis, is a growing problem that needs to be addressed,” said Tom Chapman, an NTSB member. , in a statement.
On Tuesday, January 31, the NTSB is hosting a webinar based on the report’s findings. To read the full report, click here. For more information on the National Board for Transport Safety, click here.