With its mission to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on communities around the nation, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is a public health agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. A new survey from SAMHSA provides some sobering statistics for everyone to consider this holiday season.
According to SAMHSA, in the past year an estimated 13.2% of individuals 16 or older drove under the influence of alcohol. Within this same group, 4.3% drove under the influence of illicit drugs. The survey highlights differences state-by-state, ranging from the highest levels of drunk driving (Wisconsin at 23.7%) and driving under the influence of illicit substances (Rode Island at 7.8%) with the lowest levels of drunk driving (Utah at 7.4%) and driving under the influence of illicit substances (Iowa at 2.9%).
Overall, trends have gone done in the rates of individuals driving under the influence. Drunk driving has decreased overall from 14.6% to 13.2% in recent years, and driving under the influence of illicit substances has decreased from 4.8% to 4.3%. Unfortunately, according according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS) census, nearly one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities may involve drivers under the influence.
According to SAMHSA’s administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D.: “Thousands of people die each year as a result of drunk and drugged driving, and the lives of thousands of family members and friends left behind are forever scarred. Some progress has been made in reducing the levels of drunk and drugged driving through education, enhanced law enforcement and public outreach efforts. However, the nation must continue to work to prevent this menace and confront these dangerous drivers in an aggressive way.”
Additional information is available from the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Web site.
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