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Drugged Driving: A Growing Threat on Our Roadways
By Jan Withers | October 13, 2011| 13 Comments | Filed in: Drugged Driving , General , National President , Victim Services

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.




Submitted by smoking kills at 07:17 AM on October 4, 2014
Simply ask Hollywood Ruch and Stephanie Call. Both are talking at today's occasion after specifically being affected by drivers affected by drugs.if you are looking to kill yourself, here is an idiot proof way. When you smoke, you are influencing more than just yourself. You influence families, companions, collaborators and various types of individuals once you choose to toxic substance yourself with cigarettes.
Submitted by JH at 10:09 AM on August 4, 2014
We had a cousin who was killed last summer and the driver was high on heroin. Drugged driving goes beyond the use of pot. Opiate addiction is rampant these days and it, like drunk driving, is causing deaths. Controlled substance abuse is also out of control. There are few to no tests for people under the influence of these drugs. It is not just alcohol any is expanded and far worse.
Submitted by Nick Wing at 03:15 PM on July 10, 2014 LAPD began deploying this saliva based device in December of 2013 to put a stop to DUI drugged driving, and I hope that all police departments decide to follow suit and begin deploying this and other effective solutions. Saliva based roadside drug testing devices can be utilized immediately across the nation on a voluntary basis, until new legislation is enacted and will help law enforcement to augment the effectiveness of their DRE programs. For those who have lost loved ones to drugged driving and are concerned for the safety of their communities due to the presence of drug dealers and drug activity, this is an answered prayer...
Submitted by joe at 09:44 AM on September 30, 2012
It is surprising (not) that any mention of Cannibis impairing driving is met with vacuous arguments. Just Google for "does Cannabis impair coordination" and do further research. I remember people saying that they drive better drunk. Still hear that.
Submitted by let it go at 07:54 PM on May 24, 2012
why dont you just stick to going after the drunks they are the ones driving and killing people, i dont know one pot smoker that has ever hit anything while driving. i find it funny that you and the nip it in the bud people think you can create a web page and that its going to make a difference, people will continue to smoke weed and its not just young adults i know plenty of people over 55 that smoke to relax, reason for smoking, they dont like to drink and medical drugs are way worse for you and way more addicting, example... take a look at girls gone wild or any other video like that and you will see young girls doing things they would never do had they been sober or smoked instead of drank...real problem alcohol and medical dope sorry drugs but same thing same results they are addicting and weed is not, you can drink yourself to death or o.d. on legal meds but no one has ever smoked themselves to death
Submitted by Norml at 08:29 AM on April 10, 2012
People driving under the influence of marijuana are the safest and most focused drivers on the road. Believe me, they are obeying every traffic sign/signal and are consistently focused on maintaining the legal speed.
Submitted by Whar a trage at 01:10 PM on February 19, 2012
there is a drunk in my area allowed to carpool children to events in spite of the fact that she had 2 dui's in six months. When will illinois get serious about this. She also hurt one of her kids in a drunken rage. I am sickened to see her driving
Submitted by Christina at 07:09 PM on December 22, 2011
Bars have parking lots for designated drivers Jerry, also for employees. This didn't cross your mind at all? Drugs and driving do not mix. Same as drinking and driving. Its all wrong.
Submitted by Callie at 09:50 PM on October 30, 2011
My Husband was killed by a 19yr old who was high on 4 different drugs at 8am Sept 18, 2008. This 19yr left me a widow at 26 and about to raise a child on my own (my husband and I just found out we were expecting the month prior). It's hard enough being a victim but even harder to get to the truth and if it weren't for our Victim Advocate through MADD I don't know what we would have done. My husband's killer had several other drug charges, another DUI, and a list of other charges (over 12 charges at the age of 19) that somehow were not noticed or brought up to the courts until we did. The 19yr then overdosed (still alive today) a month later because he was free to go home and still use drugs after killing my husband. I can only hope that this new law and enforcement will not only help take these impaired drivers off the road, but keep them off the road! My husband's killer is already up for parole and could be back out on the road to take another life before we know it.
Submitted by onedayatatime at 02:43 PM on October 19, 2011
I am glad to see this article. While my heart has been with MADD, the unlicensed driver that drove into my son's car at 85mph was not positive for alcohol, but for opiates---his drug of choice. The driver had cans of beer in his car and had he not left work only 20 minutes earlier, he would have worked his way through the two cans of beer still between his legs when the EMTs arrived. So I am a mother against drunk driving, drugged driving, unlicensed driving, careless driving. I am a mother against the senseless death of children.
Submitted by Lura at 05:14 PM on October 18, 2011
My son was killed when he rode in a car driven by a friend who had used Marijuana. At the hospital his blood was drawn and he was under the influence. This was at least a 2nd offence (his others were sealed when he turned 18) According to the Highway Patrol officers we talked to and the Doctors there is no accountability to anyone as to the strength of the marijuana whether it is purchased in a legal dispensary or not. People are driving around who think they are "fine" when they are still impared. And they have no way of knowing how long it will take to be considered unimpared. If marijuana is to be prescribed there needs to be accountability for strength etc. And for those getting it "other" places who knows how long it will last or what it is laced with.
Submitted by Jerry at 12:56 PM on October 17, 2011
Bars have parking lots and you're worried about keeping marijuana illegal, which doesn't keep it out of people's hands but instead puts them in danger of being arrested. I'm sorry people die in car accidents, but you don't seem to care that BARS HAVE PARKING LOTS. Think about that again, now think about how many bars near your home have parking lots. Address bars having parking lots before you worry about an already illegal substance that doesn't impair the way legal alcohol and legal prescription drugs do. Again, bars have parking lots.
Submitted by Eva at 07:26 PM on October 13, 2011
My daughter and her best friend were killed by a driver taking medication for the treatment of prescription drug addiction which is also a controlled substance. He admitted to the officer he was on the drug yet no blood was drawn from him because he did not "appear impaired". There should be more education for the officers and also madatory blood draws on all fatality accidents. It is a sad day when the only blood drawn is on the victims during an autopsy! In cases like this where is the justice for the victims. And the driver is still on the road today just another accident waiting to happen!

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