WASHINGTON, D.C. — For the third consecutive year, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (Responsibility.org) are awarding grants to help states combat the growing challenge of drug-impaired driving. In 2018, five states — Idaho, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont — will receive nearly $100,000 to provide advanced training, information and skills to detect drivers under the influence of drugs.
This year’s grants come on the heels of a new report from GHSA and Responsibility.org examining the impact of marijuana and opioids on traffic safety. The report finds that 44 percent of fatally-injured drivers with known test results were positive for drugs in 2016, up from 28 percent a decade prior. To combat these alarming statistics, the report recommends increased training for law enforcement and better tools to assess drug impairment.
New York is taking a unique approach to this grant by developing a first-of-its-kind training on oral fluid testing in drug-impaired driving cases. The training, which will occur June 14 and 15, is geared toward not only law enforcement but also prosecutors and toxicologists, bringing traffic safety partners together to encourage use of oral fluid testing in the state’s drugged driving investigations.
“The lack of a universally-accepted testing method for drug impairment makes it difficult to understand the full scale of the drugged driving problem,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. “Integrating oral fluid testing has tremendous potential to improve detection, and we hope New York’s training will serve as a model for other states to take this step.”
Through this funding, four other states will train more than 500 officers in advanced drug-impaired driving recognition. Idaho’s grant will support three Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) courses and an Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) course, while Rhode Island plans to hold two ARIDE courses in 2018 and an additional four in 2019. Meanwhile, Vermont plans on expanding its existing DRE and ARIDE training programs to reach a larger number of law enforcement officers. Minnesota will focus its funds on providing DRE training across a larger geographic area to maintain sufficient coverage throughout the state.
“Law enforcement officers are our boots on the ground when it comes to ending impaired driving,” said Ralph Blackman, President and CEO of Responsibility.org. “More frequently we’re seeing drivers not only impaired by one drug but by multiple drugs or both drugs and alcohol. We need to make sure officers are able to detect and evaluate these drivers, which is why Responsibility.org is proud to continue supporting state efforts to expand and enhance training.”
Twelve states and territories applied for these competitive grants. To date, this partnership has trained more than 1,000 officers in drug-impaired driving detection. A selection committee comprised of law enforcement and drug-impaired driving experts from around the country reviewed the applications and determined the winners. For more information on the grants and previous state program results, visit ghsa.org/resources/partner-initiatives/FAAR.