Drugged driving is a growing threat to public health and safety – an effective and coordinated response requires data for effective decision-making.
Germantown, Maryland (PRWEB) February 27, 2014
Drugged driving is an increasing threat to public safety, yet very little data exists on its incidence and prevalence. While public health and law enforcement approaches have reduced drunk driving, drugged driving represents a more complex challenge for law enforcement and the court system. To address the data gap, Advocates for Human Potential, Inc. (AHP) and Carnevale Associates, LLC (CALLC) will develop the National Drugged Driving Reporting System (DDRS), a minimum data set designed to assess the prevalence of drugged driving in the U.S.
The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) identified drugged driving as a significant problem and established a goal of reducing U.S. drugged driving by 10 percent by 2015. (1) This was the first time that ONDCP’s strategy identified drugged driving as a priority, and one that it continued in its 2011 strategy. (2) The office aims to establish methods to prevent drugged driving on par with those employed to prevent drunk driving. However, a precise estimate of drugged driving prevalence is difficult to capture.
AHP and Carnevale Associates will develop the DDRS over the next two years. The project is funded through a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“The need for additional data to develop a clearer picture of drugged driving has become more urgent,” said AHP’s Richard Landis, who serves as Principal Investigator on the project. Landis points to the increasing number of drivers who are using or abusing prescription medications, along with the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado, along with 18 states and the District of Columbia that allow “medical” marijuana, which significantly adds to the need for data involving drugged driving. In addition, experts note that the combination of alcohol with a variety of substances, including prescription drugs, illegal drugs, and marijuana, can be a particularly dangerous combination when driving.
“Until recently, the primary public policy response to the drugged driving problem has been to rely on enforcement,” said John Carnevale, Ph.D., president of CALLC and an internationally recognized expert in the field of drug policy. “Biological testing for the presence of medications and drugs to support arrests and prosecution is not routinely done, because toxicology tests for suspected drug use are often impractical,” he continued. In addition, Landis noted that prosecution of drugged driving is challenging because “there is not a recognized agreement on what constitutes impairment as there is with alcohol.”
AHP and CALLC have developed an innovative solution to understand and prevent drugged driving using a comprehensive public health approach. They will begin by collecting data through an anonymous and confidential online survey instrument that will ask drivers to self-report on their use of drugs while driving. The two companies will work with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators to select and work with up to five states interested in collecting anonymous data on drugged driving. Drivers in those five states will receive a sticker on their receipts while conducting regular business at the Department of Motor Vehicles. The sticker will direct them to the online survey; some stickers will allow drivers to receive a gift card after completing the survey.
Once the project has collected data from 5,000 individuals, analysis will identify trends. These results will provide professionals in the field of drugged driving with the foundation to create much needed instruments that consistently measure various aspects of substance use and driving behavior.
"Drugged driving is a growing threat to public health and safety – an effective and coordinated response requires data for effective decision-making," said Carnevale. "The Drugged Driving Reporting System will enable states and localities to fine-tune their efforts to address the problem of drugged driving."
AHP and Carnevale Associates plan to license the survey and sell the anonymous data for use by researchers, policy-makers, prevention and treatment programs, prescription drug monitoring programs, and law enforcement programs. AHP and CALLC also plan to provide technical assistance, training, and support services related to the use of the survey instrument.
This project has been funded in whole with Federal funds from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (3), National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No.HHSN271201300034C. Advocates for Human Potential and Carnevale Associates received $150,000 from NIDA for Phase I of this project, and received slightly less than $1 million for Phase II of the two-year project, which began in September 2013.
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ABOUT THE ORGANIZATIONS:
Advocates for Human Potential, Inc. (AHP) is a consulting and research firm specializing in Health and Behavioral Health, offering technical assistance and training, system and program development, resource development and dissemination, and research and evaluation. This project follows a Phase I SBIR award completed in February 2013, which focused on developing a national minimum data set - and accompanying survey instrument to assess the prevalence of drugged driving in the United States. The Phase II award extends over a two-year period and is AHP’s first award of a Phase II SBIR. Richard Landis, M.S.W. is the principal investigator of the project, and Neal Shifman is AHP’s president and chief executive officer.
Carnevale Associates, LLC (CALLC) is a strategic policy consulting firm that offers guidance and practical solutions to public and private organizations as they confront public policy and program challenges. The firm specializes in strategic planning, performance measurement, strategic communications, and policy research. CALLC is led by economist, John T. Carnevale, Ph.D., an internationally recognized expert on the evolution of U.S. drug control policy and a leading voice on substance abuse prevention and treatment policy, fiscal and programmatic accountability, performance measurement, and strategic planning. Dr. Carnevale has served three administrations and four "Drug Czars" within the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government. At the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, he directed the formulation of the President's National Drug Control Strategy as well as the federal drug control budget. Dr. Carnevale is credited with directing policy research that shifted the primary focus of the Nation's Drug Control Strategy from supply to demand reduction. He serves as the senior subject matter expert on the project.
The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) is a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization developing model programs in motor vehicle administration, law enforcement, and highway safety. The association also serves as an information clearinghouse in these areas. The association also serves as a liaison with other levels of government and the private sector. Three leading staff members from AAMVA will support this effort: Kevin Lewis, AAMVA’s Director of Driver Programs; Brian Ursino, AAMVA’s Director of Law Enforcement and retired Assistant Chief of the Washington State Patrol; and Thomas Manuel, AAMVA’s Senior Manager, Business Solutions and former Director of Driver Fitness.
(1) Office of National Drug Control Policy web site http://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/drugged-driving
(2) DuPont, R. (2011). Drugged Driving Research: A White Paper. Rockville, MD: Institute of Behavior and Health, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/ondcp/issues-content/drugged-driving/nida_dd_paper.pdf
(3) National Institute on Drug Abuse web site: http://www.drugabuse.gov/