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Speeches and Presentations

Comments to the International Association of Chiefs of Police

Comments by Heidi R. King, Deputy Administrator of NHTSA

Tuesday, October 09, 2018 |

On behalf of the Trump Administration, and on behalf of Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao, I thank you for your work to protect our communities.

Your work to lead a professional, well-educated and highly trained police force is challenging, but necessary to the success of modern society.

On behalf of the men and women of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, thank you for saving lives and preventing injuries on our roadways, protecting our neighbors, our families, friends and colleagues.

Drug-Impaired Driving

NHTSA has heard from law enforcement officers that many of our communities are witnessing an increase in drug-impaired driving on our roadways.

As a Nation, we do not have good data to help us define the problem. Most of our country does not have the labs or toxicologists to test impaired drivers for substances other than alcohol.

But where there is data, it shows an increase in the presence of drugs in drivers, in the drug concentrations, and in the combination of multiple drugs and drugs with alcohol.

I’m probably telling you something that you already know.

So NHTSA has launched a drug-impaired driving initiative, and the goals are three-fold:

  • First, sharing best practices. We see that some areas of the country are already building out programs that others could imitate. For example, Fullerton Police Department in California, with a large commuter college-age population, has developed a strong partnership with Traffic Prosecutors and Crime Lab specifically to address drug-impaired driving as a team. Law enforcement, prosecutors and labs working together. 
  • The second goal is to strengthen programs and tools that we know work — for example, DREs, ARIDE and DDACTS.
  • The third is to set a long-term vision for the Nation. The reason for this is that we have many, many departments, laboratories, Federal agencies, stakeholders and commutes that are mobilizing to combat deaths and injuries from drug-impaired driving. A long-term vision for the Nation can serve as a roadmap for the various players who want to help.

In the first 6 months of this initiative, NHTSA has launched a series of regional dialogues—we call them “Ideas to Impact”—that will inform a vision for the Nation, a document that provides a roadmap for mitigating the risks resulting from drug-impaired driving. 

We would like to make that vision document available for review and comment in 2019.

We also developed and launched a public awareness campaign, “If you feel different, you drive different” after extensive market research showed that this message gave pause to users who hadn’t thought about the impairing effects of marijuana and other drugs.

This initiative has already attracted the support of members of Congress as well as across Federal, State and local agencies.

I ask for your support as well.


I know that most of us — perhaps all of us — are familiar with the principles in the DDACTS program, the “Data Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety.”  

I hear from many of you that the program, as it’s been described to you, sounds like it could be expensive, or burdensome, or that it could constrain your community policing activities. 

I know what it’s like to try to make a budget work, and I know that it’s not easy. Everybody wants more from you, but no one wants to pay for it.

If you are not already implementing the program, I ask that you consider whether now is the time to consider incorporating the principles into your work.  

We know that drug-impaired drivers know where you are doing traffic enforcement, and they know where you are not doing traffic enforcement. We know that drug use is associated with other crimes. And it is unfolding together on your streets. And it’s dangerous. 

We also know that traffic crashes and crime cost your communities a lot of money, including property values and tax revenues. And we know that crime and traffic crashes cost your departments a lot of money — officers working crashes, writing reports. 

Municipal cost of managing crashes and clearing roads. Repairing infrastructure. We are in dialogue with our partners at the Department of Justice to explore potential ways to address DDACTS-related staffing/resource issues and concerns.

We hope that NHTSA’s drug-impaired-driving initiative, perhaps in conjunction with DDACTS, will help you protect the public and your officers, improve the wellbeing of your community, and allow you to protect your municipal budgets from reacting to crashes and crime while proactively serving your jurisdiction.

Thank you for all that you do, and for making me welcome to speak with you here today.