Drugged Driving Report

Last week, the Governors Highway Safety Association released an update to its 2015 report on drug-impaired driving. As a result, some media coverage of the report has suggested that drugged driving has overtaken drunk driving in terms of traffic fatalities. This interpretation of the data included in the report is incorrect and has the potential to harm MADD’s efforts to strengthen drunk driving laws.

There is no doubt that drugged driving — meaning drugs other than alcohol — is a serious problem. In 2015 MADD expanded our mission to include drug-impaired driving, with a commitment to continue serving victims of both drunk and drugged driving. We know that all victims of impaired driving endure the same devastating consequences, and MADD will always be there to support victims of this 100 percent preventable crime.

In addition, MADD advocates for policies based on research and science to help prevent alcohol and drug-impaired driving. That’s why it’s so important to make sure all data is presented accurately. MADD’s main concern with the report is how the data is being interpreted, as covered in a recent article in The Washington Post. The GHSA report announced that drugs were found in 43 percent of drivers tested in fatal crashes vs. 37 percent in alcohol involved crashes, leading to headlines like this one from CNN: “Drugged driving surpasses drunken driving among drivers killed in crashes, report finds.” The problem is this isn’t true.

Here’s why:

  • The tests for drugs and alcohol and the data reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS) are completely different, so the percentages drawn from that data do not represent an apples to apples comparison.
  • In fact, in a 2014 fact sheet, NHTSA cautions against using the FARS drugged driving data “to make inferences about impairment, crash causation, or comparisons to alcohol from this limited data.”
  • FARS calculates alcohol-related deaths using blood alcohol concentration (BAC) tests and through statistical models that estimate BACs for drivers missing test results. There is a scientifically demonstrated correlation between the BAC level and impairment.
  • There is not a similar way to establish impairment by drugs or apply a similar formula for presence of drugs or drug impairment when a test result is missing. Drug testing procedures also vary considerably by state and even within states.
  • Tests for drugs (other than alcohol) are conducted on a limited pool of drivers — often only when presence of drugs is suspected. Therefore, a jurisdiction that tests more drivers may have a higher percentage of drivers who are known to be drug-positive.
  • Tests for drugs (other than alcohol) can detect presence of a wide range of drugs, from illegal substances to over the counter and prescribed medications which may or may not have been misused. And unlike alcohol, there is no measure of the amount of the drug.
  • The presence of drugs found in a driver’s system does not mean impairment, nor does it imply that drug use was the cause of the crash. Drug tests may not reflect recent use, but use days ago. Currently, there is no way to distinguish presence of drugs and impairment.
  • If drivers with any presence of alcohol were considered, the death toll attributed to alcohol use would be even higher.

It’s important to remember that alcohol is a drug. It took decades to learn that the level for illegal alcohol impairment was .08 BAC, and to establish routine tests for BAC in drivers in fatal crashes. The tools for measuring alcohol impairment are well established. The same cannot be said for drug impairment, but that doesn’t diminish the seriousness of drug-impaired driving. MADD will continue to press for research, new laws and development of tools to eliminate — once and for all — the senseless, dangerous and completely preventable crime of driving while impaired by any drug.

How to comfort someone grieving

For many people, this is a season of celebrations. However, the holidays are often a difficult time for those who are coping with grief due to a death or serious injury. At this time of year memories of past holidays can be overwhelming, what may have been a joyful time in the past may now seem meaningless.

Friends and relatives sometimes fail to realize how significant their role can be in the healing process during the holidays. You can be a healing agent to those you love this holiday season.

Helping Tips

Here are some ways that you can help a loved one struggling with the holidays:

  1. Stay in touch, sometimes loved ones distance those who are grieving, they may be trying to protect them, but when contact is lost the victim or survivor can feel abandoned. Offer to come visit; even if they don’t feel like going out, they may want to have you visit or call to check in on them.
  2. Invite victims and survivors to social outings. Don’t assume he or she should go or wouldn’t go. Simply ask, and accept the response. It won’t hurt to ask a second time a few days later if the first response was negative, but the decision is still theirs.
  3. Invite those who are grieving to attend a holiday vigil to honor their loved one.
  4. Ask to help with specific tasks. “Call me if you need me” is not always a useful offer as often those grieving don’t want to burden others. Instead say, “I’d love to do some shopping for you when I do mine. May I?” or “I imagine decorating the house will be hard this year. May I come help you or do it for you some morning?”
  5. Be a good listener. The holidays will draw out deep feelings for surviving families. Many will feel they must talk about their loved one. Hear their feelings and accept them. Learn to be comfortable with silences and don’t feel you need to interrupt them. If you don’t know what to say it’s ok to be quiet or tell them you care about them.
  6. Write a holiday letter. Many things can be said on paper which may be difficult to say in person. A letter can be treasured, read again and again, and kept forever.
  7. Give a gift or make a donation in honor of the victim or survivor to their favorite charity.
  8. If a loved one has been killed, it’s good to speak their name often. It is important for someone who is bereaved to speak and hear their loved one’s name. It may be painful, but the pain is already there and the opportunity to talk about the one they miss so much will be cherished.

If you or a loved one would like to talk with someone about coping during the holidays or for any reason, please call our 24-Hour Victim Help Line at 1-877-MADD-HELP (877-623-3435) or visit to chat online.

Giving Tuesday Resource Center

How to serve as a MADD #GivingTuesday Ambassador

Thank you for helping MADD spread the message about Giving Tuesday, which takes place Tuesday, Nov. 29th.

We have an exciting new opportunity to make this year even better – Nationwide will DOUBLE all Giving Tuesday gifts – but ONLY if we raise $24,000. I know we can achieve it together!

Throughout the day, MADD will honor and remember one victim of drunk and drugged driving every hour of Giving Tuesday as a reminder that we are giving for those we CAN save and those we’ve lost.

These next few weeks are crucial. Help us inspire others to give back on #GivingTuesday. Here are six ways you can help:

  1. Update your profile picture: Add our Giving Tuesday Twibbon to your profile picture. We even have tweets, posts and graphics available in our Giving Tuesday toolkit.

  2. Volunteer: Give back by giving your time. Ask your local MADD office how you can assist them on Giving Tuesday.

  3. Invite other ambassadors: Giving Tuesday is more fun with friends, family, coworkers, and partners, so we encourage you to ask others to join you as a Giving Tuesday ambassador. You can do this via email, on social media, or in-person. If using social media, use the hashtag #GivingTuesday.

  4. Send an email: Send an email to your friends and family inviting them to participate on Giving Tuesday. Don't know what to say? We have you covered with a pre-written template in the toolkit.

  5. Share your story: I am giving in honor of my son, Dustin. Let people know why you are giving. I am sending an email to my friends and family – and you can too!

  6. Get social: Tweet, post, snap, and share through whatever social media channels you use to help us build momentum. Use #GivingTuesday with all your posts.

I know we can do it!

Thank you,


Colleen Sheehey-Church
MADD National President

Facebook post:

  • I’m giving to MADD’s #GivingTuesday in honor of [ENTER VICTIM NAME]. Join me to end drunk driving. #NoMoreVictims {Click here to post this}
  • MADD gives back all year long by helping victims of drunk and drugged driving. Let’s make sure they can keep up the good work next year! Join me on 11/29 for #GivingTuesday {Click here to post this}
  • MADD aims to raise $24,000 on #GivingTuesday, 11/29 to receive a dollar-for-dollar match! A different victim of drunk and drugged driving will be honored every year of the day. Help me fight drunk driving by giving to MADD on #GivingTuesday. {Click here to post this}
  • [Enter BUSINESS NAME] will DOUBLE your donation when you give to MADD on #GivingTuesday, 11/29. Help us end drunk driving #NoMoreVictims {Click here to post this}
  • You up for a challenge? @Nationwide will double MADD’s #GivingTuesday donations but only if we raise $24,000. Let’s give back and help make our roads safer! {Click here to post this}

Twitter posts:


Giving Tuesday banner


Social graphics

Sample Email

Invite your friends and family to join with you on Giving Tuesday

Justice! DA’s DUI unit earns first murder conviction for marijuana

A California District Attorney DUI-focused unit led by a California District Attorney's Office has earned its first big win this summer in the fight against drugged driving – a murder conviction for a drugged impaired driver. 

Rodolfo Alberto Contreras was sentenced in July to 20 years in prison after being convicted by a jury of second-degree murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while impaired by marijuana, and DUI by marijuana causing injury. 

“As we begin this statewide discussion about legalization of marijuana, we cannot ignore the potential consequences of making it more accessible,” said County of Kern District Attorney Lisa S. Green. “I hope our legislature will take the appropriate actions to ensure law enforcement has the tools to cope with the increase of cases similar to this one.”

Contreras ran a red light at an intersection in Kern County around noon in March of 2014. Driving close to 80 miles per hour, he lost control of his Honda, crossed the center divider, and struck an oncoming Ford Explorer. The driver of the Explorer, David Aggio, was killed on impact. His wife was seriously injured.

Contreras' Honda split in two, hitting two additional vehicles. Fortunately, no one in those two vehicles was injured.

Witnesses described the 400-feet of debris as resembling an “airplane crash site.” 

Contreras had smoked marijuana that morning. His blood was tested after the collision, showing 16 nanograms of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. He had no other drugs in his system. When a witness told him he had killed someone, Contreras said, “I want my weed,” according to the Office of the District Attorney County of Kern press release.

Funding for the DUI-focused unit, now in its sixth year, comes from a grant by the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

7 Phrases NOT to Say to Drunk and Drugged Driving Victims

Drunk driving crashes recklessly into a life, senselessly and selfishly destroying families and breaking hearts before continuing down the road to dispense more tragedy. This crime kills about 10,000 and injures around 290,000 people a year, leaving hundreds of thousands to pick themselves up and continue carrying on despite the overwhelming loss.

When someone loses a loved one to drunk or drugged driving or is injured in a crash, many people feel a common urge to offer comfort, but some words hurt more than others. Here are the top seven phrases NOT to say to a drunk or drugged driving victim.

1. They are in a better place. Although usually well-meaning, these words may resonate badly with someone who has lost a loved one in a drunk or drugged driving crash as they would rather have their loved one here with them.

2. It was just an accident. Accidents are something unforeseeable and unexpected. When someone chooses to drink and drive – that's not an accident. It’s a crash waiting to happen. Drunk and drugged driving crashes are 100% preventable.

3. Texting/speeding/any other distracted driving is just as bad as drunk driving. No doubt, other dangerous habits kill and injure people on our roads, such as speeding and distracted driving. But those two categories combined don't equal the number of deaths, not to mention injuries and property damage, caused by drunk and drugged driving. Comparing it diminishes the problem.

4. Saying nothing at all. After a drunk driving crash, friends can sometimes avoid saying the loved one's name or just simply not know what to say, so they keep their distance. But drunk or drugged driving victims want and need that support and permission to talk about their loss. Be a friend that will listen and stay close, even if you are uncomfortable. Follow the victim's cue. If they want to talk about their loss, just listen. If they don't want to talk, just be there for them.

5. You’re lucky to be alive.  Drunk driving victims and survivors might not feel lucky at all. They may feel traumatized, lost, and raw with emotions. Such statements may actually do the opposite of what you intend and hurt the person you are trying to comfort.

6. You need to forgive. Every victim feels differently about the crash and about forgiveness.  Some feel like they will never be able to forgive the person who caused the crash, others feel like it's very important for them to do so.  There is no right answer, so don't push people to do something they may not be able or ready to do.

7. Aren’t you over it already? There is no closure  following a drunk or drugged driving crash.  When someone is injured or killed they don't just “get over it”.  Crashes affect people in different ways throughout their lives, and they will likely never go back to where they were before the crash happened.

If you or someone you know is dealing with the devastation caused by a drunk or drugged driving crash, don't hesitate to call our 24/7 Victim Help Line at 1-877-MADD-HELP. Then, you will be connected with a victim advocate, who can help you navigate the courts, locate local resources, and connect with people experiencing a similar grief. Additionally, we have online chat available on our website during normal business hours.

Discover more about victim services today.

Items 1 - 5 of 77  12345678910Next