Source: GHSAResponsibility.org and GHSA to award over $157,000 in highway safety grantsWASHINGTON, D.C. – For the seventh year in a row, the Governors Highway Safety Association and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility are awarding grants to states to keep Americans safe from drunken and drug-impaired drivers. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute published new studies today that showed that crash rates increased in five states after the legalization and sale of marijuana. This highlights the need to stop drugged driving.
The 2021 GHSA-Responsibility.org grant awards will provide four states – Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland and Wisconsin – with a total of $157,165 to support enhanced identification and assessment of alcohol- and drug-impaired drivers. These grants will be used to provide law enforcement training in drug-impaired driving detection, tools to identify the treatment needs of offenders, and to improve toxicology reporting on suspected impaired driving cases. Around 2,300 officers have been trained to identify impaired drivers by the grant program in the six-years that it has been running.
Summer is a dangerous season for impaired driving. This year, bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues will reopen after having been closed or limited in capacity for a lot of 2020. As more people return to work and families travel, traffic levels will likely rise. Alarmingly, the trend lines for impaired driving due to alcohol and drugs are moving in the opposite direction. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic deaths increased by more than 7 percent in 2020. This is a 13-year record. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also reported a 9% increase in alcohol-related crashes. This is further evidence that drugged driving has increased on U.S roads in the past year.
Jonathan Adkins, Executive Director of GHSA, stated that Americans spent the last year trying to be safe but then returned to the roads to face another deadly threat: drunken and drug-impaired drivers. These grants will be used to fund innovative and proven ways to improve road safety and address the most dangerous drivers.
These grants will be used to implement key recommendations from the GHSA report on high-risk impaired drivers (HRID), which was released by Responsibility.org in December 2019. Every impaired driver is at risk. However, this report and Responsibility.org STOPHRID online resource hub recommend multidisciplinary approaches that are proven to help classify impaired driving as high-risk and address the dangers posed in particular cases by those most at risk.
The GHSA report urges states to take an individualized justice approach to this problem and prevent recidivism. This multidisciplinary approach involves identifying the root cause of the offender’s behavior and determining the best treatment and sanctions. Monitoring and holding them responsible for their actions will help to reduce the likelihood that they will recidivate. These grants will fund the following programs:
Assessment of impaired driver’s substance use disorders and mental well-being. Louisiana will use its grant for a pilot project to screen drivers convicted of misdemeanor DUI. These assessments will be used by state and municipal judges to determine the defendant’s treatment needs and make more individual sentencing decisions. This will reduce the chance of recidivism.
Forensic phlebotomist training for law enforcement officers. Georgia’s grant will enable 96 law enforcement officers to receive phlebotomy training to better detect drug-, alcohol- or polysubstance-impaired drivers. This will decrease the number of cases of driving under the influences that go to trial without toxicology reports. It will also allow for blood draws in a safe manner and promptly, which will give officers a better account of any drugs or alcohol found in a driver’s system.
Recognizing and dealing with drug-impaired driving. Maryland will use the grant to train officers in law enforcement on how to recognize, identify, and communicate signs of drug impairment in drivers. This includes a Drug Recognition Expert course (DRE), and three Cannabis Intoxication Impaired Driving Labs. The State Toxicology Unit will receive additional grant funding to allow it to process additional blood tests in cases involving impaired driving and alcoholism.
Statewide expansion of the pool of drug recognition specialists. The grant from Wisconsin will help to fund law enforcement training in order to identify impaired drivers. While the state has a DRE currently in 50 of its 72 counties, many are not well served with one or two DREs in each county. The grant will allow the state to have a designated driver assistance representative (DRE) in each county as more cases of impaired driving occur in Wisconsin. It will also reduce the number of drugged driving cases dismissed or pled down.
“Every 50 minutes someone dies in America from an avoidable impaired driving accident. Responsibility.org is proud to continue our partnership GHSA to support states efforts to address impaired driving and remove high risk impaired drivers from our roads,” stated Dr. Darrin Grondel, Responsibility.org’s Vice-President of Traffic Safety and Government Relations.
Visit the GHSA website for more information about the grants and past state program results.
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Governors Highway Safety Association is a non-profit association that represents highway safety offices of all 50 states, territories, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) provides leadership and representation to the states and territories in order to improve traffic safety and influence national policy. It also helps program management, promote best practices, and enhance program management. The Governors appoint its members to manage federal and state highway safety funds, and implement state highway safety programs. For more information, visit ghsa.org or follow us on Facebook.
The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility is a national non-profit organization that fights drunk driving and underage drinking. It is funded by: Bacardi U.S.A., Inc., Beam Suntory, Inc., Brown-Forman, Constellation Brands, Inc., DIAGEO, Edrington, Mast-Jagermeister US, Moet Hennessy USA, and Pernod Ricard USA. Responsibility.org, which has 29 years of experience, has changed many lives by bringing together families, communities, and individuals to have a lifetime of discussions about alcohol responsibility. They also offer proven strategies to end impaired driving. Visit responsibility.org to learn more.
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