Speeches and Presentations

Ideas to Impact: A Dialogue to Address Drug-Impaired Driving

Prepared Remarks for Heidi King, Deputy Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Monday, July 16, 2018 | Seattle

Thank you – thanks to each and every one of you for joining us today. This event continues a national dialogue that we started in March in Washington, D.C. 

We are here because I have learned from you – many of you in this room, and many folks outside of this room – of the growing evidence that drug impairment in our Nation’s drivers presents a risk to our highway safety. 

NHTSA is a safety agency, and it is not just our responsibility to lean in and address drug-impaired driving–it’s our mission. It’s our obligation to protect Americans on our roadways and save lives.   

Four months ago, we issued a Call to Action. I am pleased to tell you that we are moving forward. We have convened two expert working groups to help us devise a path for improvement in two of the most challenging areas:

  • The State Criminal Justice System, and
  • Toxicology and Data Collection.   

In addition, we are coordinating with other entities that can help us raise public awareness, and we are adjusting our research agenda to better inform strategies to address the problem. To accelerate best practice sharing, we are here in Washington State to learn directly from people on the front lines, and to hear what we can do to solve this problem.   

Today is the first of many regional meetings to combat drug-impaired driving – and these conversations will help us lay out a vision to:

  1. Educate ourselves and the public on the dangers of drug-impaired driving;
  2. Make an immediate impact by sharing and strengthening best practices that are already working to make our communities safer;
  3. Plan actions in the near term to combat drug-impaired driving, such as raising public awareness, initiative research, and building the capacity of the public safety and criminal justice communities to address the issue;
  4. Identify actions that must be started now for longer-term impact, for example, expansion of the public safety toxicology lab system, and improving data collection so we can solve problems strategically. 

I am so glad that you are here to take part because YOU are important!  YOUR knowledge and experience will help us save lives. This is your opportunity to tell NHTSA what you think. We need to know:

  • What is working?
  • What is missing?
  • What can and should NHTSA do?

We are committed to the mission of saving lives, preventing injuries, and reducing the cost of traffic crashes. We must start by raising awareness, by echoing and amplifying the messaging already shared by our partners. 

The information we hear today is so important because it will allow us to form a more clear vision and engage the right people – across the local, State, and Federal landscapes – to address the serious problem drug-impaired driving poses. 

Let’s get started.