Drugged Driving: A Growing Threat on Our Roadways

For more than 30 years, MADD has worked hard to put a face to the statistics.  Study after study shows what happens when alcohol and driving are mixed — tragedy.  But while drunk driving remains one of the primary threats on America’s roadways, alcohol isn’t the only drug that causes heartbreak on our roadways.  We are also seeing a growing trend of poly-abuse (both alcohol and other drugs) and drugged driving crashes.  Although the substances are different, the consequences are the same — needless deaths and injuries. 

Just ask Hollywood Ruch and Stephanie Call.  Both are speaking at today’s event after personally being impacted by drivers under the influence of drugs. 

Here’s what we’re up against according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

  • Roughly one in eight weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for illicit drugs.
  • In 2009, of the drivers who were killed in motor vehicle crashes (and were subsequently tested and had results reported), one in three tested positive for drugs.
  • One in ten high school seniors self-reported that in the last two weeks they had driven a car after using marijuana.

The ripple effects after a crash are as deep as they are wide.  At MADD, we like to say: first there is the crash … then there is the impact.  That is why since our founding, MADD has provided support to victims and survivors of drunk driving crashes.  After my daughter Alisa died, I turned to MADD for help.  And what I found was that not only did I get help, I got hope too. 

For the past 17 years, I’ve personally served as a victim advocate and have worked with hundreds of families, some of which lost their loved ones to a drugged driver.   Each case is as heartbreaking as the next. 

While MADD has been providing support for those victims and survivors of drugged driving crashes who have been referred to or have reached out to MADD, until now, MADD has not made specific national efforts to reach these underserved victims. Today, in recognition of the growing problem of poly-abuse and drugged driving, we are announcing alongside the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy the launch of a national coordinated effort to reach out to the underserved and growing number of drugged driving victims in the country.

Corporal David Andracsik

In addition to victim services, MADD will also begin honoring those law enforcement officers who are pioneers in discovering effective strategies for recognizing drugged driving. At MADD, we believe that recognizing officers who make significant contributions to ending drugged driving is key to raising awareness about this growing threat to American families.

Starting this year, an award, known as the ‘MADD Hero Award for Drugged Driving Enforcement,’ will be awarded biannually to a law enforcement agency, individual or group that has made significant contributions toward getting drugged drivers off of the nation’s roadways.  I am proud today to share that the first winner of the MADD Hero Award for Drugged Driving Enforcement is Corporal David Andracsik of the Pennsylvania State Police Department Bureau of Patrol.  We thank Corporal Andracsik for all he has done to help protect people and prevent injuries.

You can help support this exciting new aspect to our organization’s ongoing efforts to save lives and serve people.  Make a donation or find out how you can become a trained victim advocate.  MADD needs people like you to push our lifesaving mission forward.