NHTSA Impaired Driving Studies Highlights Trends in Drunk, Drugged Driving (Pt. 1)
February 10, 2015
Federal transportation regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) have recently reported the results of two impaired driving studies, and their findings uncover some remarkable trends.
In fact, these two NHTSA impaired driving studies generally found that, while drunk driving seems to be on the decline in the U.S., motorists’ use of marijuana and prescription drugs has been “increasingly prominent on the highways.”
Impaired Driving in the U.S.: Findings Regarding Drunk Driving
The NHTSA impaired driving study that focused on drunk driving was the most recent version of the Administration’s Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers, which has been conducted since 1973. This impaired driving study was conducted as a voluntary, anonymous survey, in which motorists were notified of survey sites and volunteered to submit to data to researchers.
This impaired driving study found that:
- Since 2007, the number of drunk drivers on U.S. roads has decreased by nearly 33 percent.
- When comparing the results of the recent study with those from 1973, the incidence of drunk driving in the U.S. has decreased by roughly 80 percent.
- During nighttime hours over weekends (when drunk driving tends to be the most prevalent), about 8 percent of motorists on the roads reportedly have alcohol in their systems, with just over 1 percent of these motorists reportedly having BACs above the legal limit of 0.08 (which is the legal limit in every U.S. state for noncommercial drivers who are at least 21).
- Despite the promising drop in drunk driving in the U.S., there has been a significant increase in the number of people who choose to drive after using marijuana or other illicit drugs.
- In 2014, close to 1 out of every 4 motorists had drugs in their systems that could impact their abilities to safely drive.
Remarking on these findings, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind noted:
America made drunk driving a national issue and while there is no victory as long as a single American dies in an alcohol-related crash, a one-third reduction in alcohol use over just seven years shows how a focused effort and cooperation among the federal government, states and communities, law enforcement, safety advocates and industry can make an enormous difference.
For the findings of the NHTSA’s impaired driving study focused on drugged driving, be sure to check out the upcoming conclusion to this blog.
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