Latta Chairs DCCP Hearing on the Rise of Drugged Driving
Congressman Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) raised concerns about the rise of drugged driving accidents and fatalities at an Energy and Commerce (E&C) Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection (DCCP) Subcommittee hearing today. The hearing, entitled Examining Drug-Impaired Driving, highlighted the increase of drugged driving fatalities and discussed potential solutions to the problem. The DCCP Subcommittee’s jurisdiction includes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Latta said in his opening remarks, “Amid the devastating opioid crisis, and as more states legalize the use of marijuana, tackling this problem is now more important than ever. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, in 2016 the number of drivers who were fatally injured in accidents with drugs in their system surpassed the number of those with alcohol in their system for the first time.”
He continued, “Driving while impaired is illegal in all 50 states, but there is no set definition of drug impairment and testing practices vary from state to state. Unlike with alcohol, there is no widely used drug field test comparable to a breathalyzer. Instead, most officers learn how to recognize signs of drug impairment, including driver’s verbal and physical responses to questions and instructions. Teaching these methods have been a challenge, and the lack of data on drugged driving only exacerbates that challenge.
“New methods for roadside drug testing are also being developed and deployed in several states, including saliva tests. At their summit in March, NHTSA committed to examining the operation of these tests and improving the data the government has about drugged-driving related fatalities. Understanding the problem is an important first step to fixing it.”
Video of Latta’s opening statement is available here.
Witnesses testifying at the hearing were Dr. Robert L. Dupont, President of the Institute for Behavior and Health; Jennifer Harmon, Assistant Director, Forensic Chemistry, Orange County Crime Lab; Erin Holmes, Director, Traffic Safety Programs and Technical Writer, Responsibility.org; and Colleen Sheehy-Church, National President for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.