Dr. Mark Rosekind, Board Member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), discussing NTSB, Impaired Driving, and DWI Courts.

To download Dr. Rosekind's PowerPoint presentation, click here.

 

Mr. Benjamin Tucker, Deputy Director of State, Local, and Tribal Affairs for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) discussing ONDCP, Drugged Driving, and DWI Courts.

 

NTSB and ONTCP Talk about Impaired Driving and DWI Courts at NADCP Annual Conference

"DWI and Drug Courts play a critical role in helping our entire country reach zero...no more crashes, deaths or injuries from a substance impaired driver." These were the words declared by Dr. Mark Rosekind, Board Member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) during the Closing Session of the NADCP 18th Annual Training Conference. DWI Courts and substance-impaired driving were highlighted during the session with presentations by Dr. Rosekind and Mr. Benjamin Tucker, Deputy Director of State, Local, and Tribal Affairs for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).


Dr. Rosekind noted that since May 14, 1988, when 27 people died in the deadliest alcohol-impaired driving crash in U.S. history, the country has had over 300,000 lives lost, millions injured and 200 law enforcement officers killed, all due to impaired driving. Since 1988, there have been significant accomplishments such as the percentage of impaired driving fatalities to all highway fatalities dropping from 41% in 1988 to 31% in 2010. Also, the total number of impaired driving fatalities in 1988 was 18,611; in 2010 it was at 10,228. However, as Dr. Rosekind stated, such a tremendous loss of life is deplorable and we must continue the effort to reach zero deaths. "The biggest challenge all of us have is that complacency must be unacceptable. We have to make it unacceptable, unacceptable that any life is lost in a crash due to a substance-impaired driver."


What is clear is that no single solution will help us solve this problem. It will take a comprehensive approach, and one component includes DWI and Drug Courts. Dr. Rosekind praised DWI and Drug Courts noting a number of their strengths: "One of the things that I think is your greatest strength is you have data, it is clear that DWI and Drug Courts are effective based on evidence." He pointed out that DWI Courts have such an effective approach, we need to see a way to get DWI Courts "available to everyone in the country."


After Dr. Rosekind, Mr. Tucker from the ONDCP spoke on drugged driving, observing that it is just as dangerous as alcohol-impaired driving, citing such facts as:

  • Approximately one in eight weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for illicit drugs in 2007.
  • In 2009, 1 in 3 drivers killed in a motor vehicle crash with a known drug test result tested positive for an illegal drug.
  • Cannabinoids were reported in almost half (43%) of the fatally injured drivers aged 24 or younger who tested positive for drugs.

It is those kinds of facts that demonstrate that drugged driving is a significant problem, one that needs everyone's energy and dedication to create healthier, safer and more livable communities.

 

The way to address this public safety threat, declared Mr. Tucker, is to have a coordinated effort through education, policymaking and legislation. Regarding education and policymaking, it is important to create partnerships with such national groups as NADCP, MADD, RADD (the Entertainment Industry's Voice for Road Safety) and others to help raise public awareness about the consequences of drugged driving. One of the legislative responses has been to have states pass "per se" laws, in which it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle if there is any detectable level of a prohibited drug in the driver's blood. Thus far, 17 states have passed such laws.


In wrapping up, Mr. Tucker expressed his gratitude to NADCP, saying: "I want to thank NADCP and the National Center for DWI Courts for taking a leadership role in the larger national effort to reduce drugged driving. With everyone's continued support we can ensure that the nation's criminal justice system and court system are equipped with the knowledge and the tools to combat this problem."

 

“DWI and Drug Courts play a critical role in helping our entire country reach zero…no more crashes, deaths or injuries from a substance impaired driver.” Dr. Mark Rosekind, NTSB Board Member

 

“I want to thank NADCP and the National Center for DWI Courts for taking a leadership role in the larger national effort to reduce drugged driving.” Mr. Ben Tucker, Deputy Director, ONDCP