SAMHSA Survey Indicates Many Drive Under Influence of Alcohol and Drugs
A new survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) considers only drivers age 16 or older who might drive under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs, not the ones who drive while drowsy from legal OTC or prescription drugs.
SAMHSA’s survey indicates that on average 13.2% of all persons 16 or older drove under the influence of alcohol and 4.3% of this age group drove under the influence of illicit drugs in the past year.
The survey, State Estimates of Drunk and Drugged Driving, is based on the combined data from the 2002 to 2005 and 2006 to 2009 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) and involves responses from more than 423,000 respondents aged 16 or over.
Survey data indicate that the average yearly rate of drunk driving has declined from 14.6% to 13.2%, while the average yearly rate of drugged driving has decreased from 4.8% to 4.3% when comparing data from 2002 through 2005 combined to data gathered from 2006 to 2009 combined.
The states with the highest levels of past year drunk driving were Wisconsin (23.7%) and North Dakota (22.4%) while Utah (7.4%) and Mississippi (8.7%) had the lowest levels.
The highest rates of past year drugged driving were found in Rhode Island (7.8%) and Vermont (6.6%) while Iowa and New Jersey had the lowest levels (2.9 percent and 3.2 percent respectively).
Levels of self-reported drunk and drugged driving differed dramatically among age groups. Younger drivers aged 16 to 25 had a much higher rate of drunk driving than those aged 26 or older (19.5% versus 11.8%). Similarly, people aged 16 to 25 had a much higher rate of driving under the influence of illicit drugs than those aged 26 or older (11.4% versus 2.8%).
“Thousands of people die each year as a result of drunk and drugged driving, and the lives of thousands of family members and friends left behind are forever scarred,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. “Some progress has been made in reducing the levels of drunk and drugged driving through education, enhanced law enforcement and public outreach efforts. However, the nation must continue to work to prevent this menace and confront these dangerous drivers in an aggressive way.”
For the latest information about the public health risks of alcohol misuse one can go to Samhsa.gov/iccpud. This site provides updated information about the risks, such as drunk driving, as well as new and effective prevention strategies and activities.
In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a Web site at http://www.stopimpaireddriving.org/ that provides detailed information about the dangers of drunk and drugged driving and what can be done to help combat the problem.