WASHINGTON, D.C. – For the sixth consecutive year, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (Responsibility.org) are awarding grants to help states keep Americans safe from the most dangerous impaired drivers.
The new grants will expand the nearly 2,000 officers trained in drug-impaired driving detection through the first five years of the partnership. The 2020 grant awards will fund seven states – Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wyoming – with a total of $210,000 to support enhanced identification and assessment of alcohol and drug impaired drivers. GHSA will also receive $35,000 to educate State Highway Safety Offices and law enforcement agencies throughout the United States about state oral fluid test pilot programs.
Summer is traditionally the deadliest season for impaired driving, and risks are expected to be particularly high this summer as states reopen bars, restaurants and other hospitality establishments that have been shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With road traffic levels returning to pre-pandemic levels, and the pandemic’s impact on mental health and economic anxiety, experts believe this is a critical time to support efforts to keep impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel.
“Vehicle miles traveled fell drastically during the pandemic, but that decline didn’t result in improved safety on our nation’s roadways,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. “Alcohol and drug impaired driving persisted, with prevention experts warning the problem may worsen as people continue to worry about contracting the virus, recover from the economic fall-out and adhere to social distancing requirements. All are triggers for substance use making this grant program even more important.”
The grants will help states implement key recommendations in the GHSA report on High Risk Impaired Drivers, funded by Responsibility.org. While every impaired driver is high risk, this report and the Responsibility.org STOP HRID online resource hub take counter-measures to the next level by recommending proven, multidisciplinary approaches to addressing the specific dangers posed by repeat offenders and impaired drivers with high blood alcohol concentrations or a combination of impairing substances.
Impairment may be the result of alcohol, drugs or both, as there has been a 16% increase between 2006 and 2016 in the number of impaired drivers killed in crashes who tested positive for multiple substances, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System. The GHSA report calls on states to prevent repeat offenders and reduce the number of fatalities by taking an individualized justice approach to the problem. This is a multidisciplinary effort to identify the root cause of an offender’s behavior, determine the appropriate sanctions and prevent recidivism. Highlights of the programs to be funded with STOP HRID grants include:
- MISSOURI – $12,000 – Implementing innovative partnerships to combat impaired driving. Missouri will use its grant to explore new ways to address impaired driving through a partnership with the Missouri Safety Center, that will include examining new and successful programs employed by other states.
“Last year over 10,000 people in the United States died in preventable impaired driving crashes. It is an honor to support innovative state efforts to address alcohol, drug and multi-substance impaired driving and remove high-risk impaired drivers from the roadways,” said Dr. Darrin T. Grondel, Responsibility.org’s Vice President of Traffic Safety and Government Relations.
For more information on the grants and previous state program results, visit ghsa.org/resources/partner-initiatives/FAAR.