Big News to Share!
Yesterday, Responsibility.org joined Shaquille O’Neal and the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) to deliver some exciting news to the law enforcement community. We attended the International Chiefs of Police Association’s highway safety committee meeting to make the big announcement: Shaq is teaming up with Responsibility.org and the GHSA to crack down on drugged driving.
Nationally in 2013, among fatally injured drivers involved who were tested, 38% were using drugs and 40% were consuming alcohol.
We have worked with Shaq for more than five years to reduce college binge drinking and underage drinking. When we talked about our next effort, Shaq was really interested in helping to increase the ability of law enforcement officers to fight drugged driving.
Shaq has a longtime interest in law enforcement and was named a reserve officer with the Los Angeles Port Police, a Miami Beach reserve officer and was named an honorary deputy by his sheriff’s department.
Identifying drug-impaired drivers is incredibly difficult as discussed in a previous blog. Special law enforcement training is needed to accomplish this task.
Our goal is to increase the number of officers who can identify drug-impaired drivers and defend those arrests in the courtroom through law enforcement training grants that will fund drug-impaired driving training and associated costs. It will be a two year effort with GHSA via its state highway safety offices in collaboration with Chiefs of Police and Sheriffs.
This project is a natural follow up to our funding of the GHSA’s Drug-Impaired Driving Report that was released last month. It includes a review of the drug-impaired driving problem and strategies states can implement to address it.
The nation has achieved steady declines in alcohol-impaired driving since 1982, but progress has reached a plateau in recent years. The legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana and the prevalence of opiate abuse along with other drugs presents a threat to continued progress in preventing impaired driving.
Often, law enforcement practice limits drug testing to suspects who are not alcohol-impaired. This practice saves time and money but conceals the DUID problem since many drug impaired drivers are also consuming alcohol.
This new partnership will provide more opportunities for drugged driving training in the law enforcement community. States will be encouraged to match the grant funds and work with other local, state and federal partners to further increase funding for these efforts.
The Responsibility.org goal is to eliminate impaired driving and it doesn’t matter whether the impairment is cause by drugs, alcohol or a combination.
Brandy Anderson Nannini is the Vice President of Government Relations and Traffic Safety.
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