The Century Council commends MADD’s increased focus on drug impaired driving and proactive work to serve victims of drugged driving crashes. While alcohol-impaired traffic deaths have declined to the lowest levels on record, drugged driving has emerged as a growing problem in dire need of definition, research and solutions. While drunk driving remains a top priority, a national effort to prevent drugged driving is long overdue. We commend the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Department of Transportation leadership on their goal of reducing drugged driving in the United States 10% by the year 2015.
Research on drugged driving is needed to fully understand the scope of the problem. Effective solutions must be implemented. Public education on the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs – including those prescribed by a doctor – is a top priority. Law enforcement and criminal justice officials need training, standard screening methods and laws to ensure that drugged drivers are identified and prosecuted. But we cannot stop there. We must also focus on rehabilitation efforts to ensure that a deadly pattern of behavior is not repeated.
In 2010, The Century Council partnered with the Division on Addictions at Cambridge Health Alliance, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, to expand and test a Computerized Assessment and Referral System (CARS) for use with a structured diagnostic mental health assessment in DUI treatment settings. This program holds great potential to identify co-occurring disorders among drunk and drugged drivers and place them in treatment settings that will address the specific diagnosis. Our hope is that better assessment will lead to more effective treatment and safer roads.
Repeat DUI offenders often suffer from a number of disorders. In one study, in addition to lifetime alcohol disorder, 41% of the participants had an additional drug-related disorder and 44% had a major mental disorder that was not alcohol or drug-related (Shaffer et al., 2007). However, treatment for DUI offenders most commonly consists of alcohol education and possibly some form of alcohol treatment only. The Century Council looks forward to working with traffic safety leaders across the nation to tackle this problem.