FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 27, 2023
CONTACT: Adrian Nicholas, 202-580-7934
607-222-9868 (after hours)
Amid rise in impaired driving deaths, grants for Maryland, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania will help law enforcement identify and remove dangerous drivers from the road
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and Responsibility.org have awarded $120,000 in grants to four State Highway Safety Offices (SHSO) for programs designed to combat alcohol, cannabis and multi-substance impaired driving, which accounts for approximately one-third of U.S. traffic deaths annually. Now in its ninth year, the grant program has provided over $1 million to states to address this ongoing threat on our roadways.
Impaired driving deaths have surged in recent years, rising 14% in both 2020 and 2021. More than 3,000 additional people died in drunk driving crashes between 2019 (10,196) and 2021 (13,384), according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Every day, 36 people die from alcohol-impaired driving crashes – one death every 39 minutes. Drug- and multiple substance-impaired driving have increased in recent years and, as more states legalize cannabis, these dangerous driving behaviors must be addressed to save lives. Providing law enforcement the tools, resources and training to better recognize drug impairment will enable officers to identify and remove dangerous drivers from the road.
“Summer should be for beach trips and family vacations. Tragically, summer also brings a rise in impaired driving crashes and deaths, leaving countless families shattered and communities devastated,” said GHSA Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Adkins. “GHSA is excited to continue our long-running partnership with Responsibility.org to give law enforcement the tools they need to help make our roads safer for everyone traveling this summer and beyond.”
The 2023 grants will enable four states – Maryland, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania – to bolster their ability to deter and detect impaired drivers. The specific programs that will be funded with these grants include:
- An expansion of “green labs,” which involve giving volunteers a controlled dose of cannabis (and in some cases a combination of cannabis and alcohol). Maryland will provide training that enables law enforcement officers to perform a series of sobriety tests with volunteers to witness the impairing effects of these substances. The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration’s Highway Safety Office will also supply training manuals to law enforcement agencies to help officers better detect multi-substance impairment. Expanding the cadre of officers with this expertise is critical, as the consumption of recreational adult-use cannabis is now legal in Maryland (as of July 1).
- Two unique programs to address offenders convicted of driving under the influence of drugs (DUID). The first program uses a Remote Resident Monitoring system developed by Somantix Technologies to determine if offenders in the Lackawanna County Treatment Court are continuing to use drugs or other impairing substances. For the second program, the Pennsylvania Highway Safety Office (located within the Department of Transportation) will engage the Center for Forensic Science and Research to build a comprehensive library of the most commonly used drugs by drivers convicted of DUID. Both projects will increase the state’s ability to detect varying forms of drug-impaired driving to reduce the number of impaired drivers on Pennsylvania roads.
- Law enforcement officer phlebotomy training and the creation of in-state curriculum. The Missouri Department of Transportation will expand its ability to train law enforcement officers to conduct roadside blood tests through the development of an in-state phlebotomy program in partnership with the University of Central Missouri – Missouri Safety Center. This funding will also enable seven officers to complete their training as the inaugural class of Missouri’s in-state phlebotomy program, increasing the total number of qualified officers in the state.
- Training law enforcement officers to screen and assess drug-impaired driving offenders and provide admissible evidence through implementation of infrared, high-definition digital video technology. The Ohio Traffic Safety Office will provide law enforcement officers training in the use of DAX Evidence Recorders, which will enable them to capture the eye movements and other physical responses of drivers suspected of being under the influence of an impairing substance. Additionally, the state will use video recorded by these devices to develop and provide training videos to law enforcement agencies to expand and enhance their impaired driving detection initiatives.
These projects implement recommendations in the 2019 GHSA report on High-Risk Impaired Drivers, funded by Responsibility.org, and the National Alliance to Stop Impaired Driving’s (NASID) national strategic framework. NASID is a broad coalition of stakeholders established by Responsibility.org that includes GHSA and many other public and private sector organizations.
“Impaired driving is an avoidable decision that leads to preventable tragedies on our roadways,” said Darrin Grondel, Senior Vice President of Traffic Safety for Responsibility.org and Director of NASID. “We are proud to continue our partnership with GHSA to provide critical funding to help safeguard the lives of everyone that uses the road.”
For more information on the grants and previous state program results, visit the GHSA website.
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The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy, enhance program management and promote best practices. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Visit ghsa.org for more information or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Responsibility.org is a national not-for-profit that aims to eliminate drunk driving and work with others to end all impaired driving, eliminate underage drinking, and empower adults to make a lifetime of responsible alcohol choices as part of a balanced lifestyle. Responsibility.org is funded by the following distillers: Bacardi USA, Inc.; Beam Suntory Inc.; Brown-Forman; Campari Group; Constellation Brands; DIAGEO; Edrington, Mast-Jägermeister US, Inc.; Moët Hennessy USA; Ole Smoky, LLC; Pernod Ricard USA; and William Grant & Sons. For more than 30 years, Responsibility.org has transformed countless lives through programs that bring individuals, families, and communities together to inspire a lifetime of responsible alcohol choices. To learn more, please visit www.Responsibility.org.