Speeches and Presentations

Drug-Impaired Driving Call to Action, Closing Remarks

Heidi King, NHTSA Deputy Administrator

Thursday, March 15, 2018 | Washington, DC

Drug-Impaired Driving Call to Action
Closing Remarks, as Prepared
Heidi King, NHTSA Deputy Administrator
March 15, 2018

As we heard today, drug-impaired driving affects all communities. Drugs can affect both the body and cognitive skills. We need both to safely drive. This is a problem unlike anything we have ever faced, so we must be innovative in our approach and solutions.

What do we need to get to a safer future? From what we heard today, the crisis on our roads calls for a combination of policies, research, and action that requires committed and sustained efforts from State, local and Federal governments, and from highway safety partners, schools and communities. 

Here are steps we need to take.

  • Collaborate: Expand the national dialogue to a broader set of stakeholders, experts and communities.
  • Communicate: Develop, coordinate and deploy public awareness and education initiatives to stigmatize drug-impaired driving on the national, state and local levels.
  • Save Lives Today: Identify recommendations for near-term risk reduction, to better leverage existing programs – it’s irresponsible to wait.
  • Save Lives Tomorrow: Develop a vision for the Nation’s strategic approach to combat the problem of drug-impaired driving.
  • Solve the Problem: Explore and leverage innovative approaches to prevent drug-impaired driving in our communities in the future.

We can no longer tolerate our own ignorance of this critical threat to the safety of our roads. We must engage in a difficult but critical discussion and launch a national dialogue to reduce the loss of life caused by drug-impaired driving.

We can do this. By working together, we can begin to save lives today and prevent thousands of impaired-driving auto crashes. In the years to come, I want young people to return home from celebrations safely, and in good health. I know that we can do this.

What’s next? Take the feedback received today. Make decisions. A vision for the Nation, near-term actions to be initiated over the next 6 to 12 months, and longer-term actions to follow. 

What will NHTSA do?

We commit to raising awareness in collaboration with you.

We will continue the dialogue to foster the sharing of best practices.

But I also believe that we need to establish some goals for the near term, mid-term and long term.

It’s important that we begin to sketch out a vision for where we are going as a Nation. I believe that it’s important for us all to know what we’re trying to achieve in order to maximize our collaboration and effectively make progress toward the goal of combating drug-impaired driving.

I think of the vision as our goal – our destination – what we want to accomplish together.

This is important because the journey will be difficult. When we speak about the things we want to accomplish, we quickly identify barriers, complexities, data gaps. To overcome those barriers, we need to know where we are going, and that we have a large and committed, skilled team to help us all achieve that vision for the Nation.

In truth, standing here today, I don’t know what the elements of that vision will be. And it’s uncomfortable launching on a journey together without knowing exactly where we’re going.

But I know this – there will be fewer needless fatalities from drug-impaired driving.

Many of the ideas shared here today will be a critical part of that long-term vision.  But it’s also likely that we will generate additional ideas and solutions from our learnings along the way. 

I know we can do this.

Thank you for being here today, and thank you for launching the Nation on this journey.