Survey Pinpoints Dangers From Impaired Drivers

Tuesday, July 14th 2009, 10:02 am
By: News On 6

UNDATED -- A new "roadside survey" just released shows good and bad news concerning the number of impaired drivers on the road. It also pinpoints the time of day these drivers are most often on the road - and even their choice of vehicle.

The good news is a continuing decline in the number of alcohol impaired drivers on the nation's roads.  The percentage of impaired drivers fell from 7.5% in 1973 to 2.2% in 2007, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study.

Drivers who had a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher were considered impaired in both studies. 

The new study had troubling information about the number of drug impaired drivers on the nation's highways.

The survey found 16.3% of nighttime weekend drivers were drug positive. The survey focused on weekend nighttime drivers and found that the drugs used most commonly by drivers were: marijuana (8.6%); cocaine (3.9%); and over-the-counter and prescription drugs (3.9%).

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said he is concerned about the prevalence of drivers who use drugs, and we should continue to fight against all impaired drivers.

"I'm pleased to see that our battle against drunk driving is succeeding," said Secretary LaHood. "However, alcohol still kills 13,000 people a year on our roads and we must continue to be vigilant in our efforts to prevent drunk driving."

"This troubling data shows us, for the first time, the scope of drugged driving in America, and reinforces the need to reduce drug abuse," said Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. "Drugged driving, like drunk driving, is a matter of public safety and health. It puts us all at risk and must be prevented."

Among the findings of the latest roadside survey are these:

  • The percentage of male drivers with illegal BAC levels was 42% higher than the percentage of alcohol-impaired female drivers.
  • Drivers were more likely to be illegally drunk during late nighttime hours (1 a.m. to 3 a.m.) than during daytime or early evening hours.
  • Motorcycle riders were more than twice as likely as passenger vehicle drivers to be drunk (5.6% compared with 2.3%). Pickup truck drivers were the next most likely to have illegal BACs (3.3%).