November 17, 2016
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces New Public Service Campaign to Combat Drugged Driving in New York State

TOP Governor Cuomo Announces New Public Service...

“Drugged Driving is Impaired Driving” – PSA Warns New Yorkers About the Dangers of Drugged Driving

WYSIWYG

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a new public service campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of drugged driving in New York State. The public service announcement, titled “Drugged Driving is Impaired Driving,” was developed by the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee and will run on broadcast and cable television stations across New York. The PSA can be viewed here.

“Make no mistake: Drugged driving is a threat to our roadways and places everyone on them in danger,” Governor Cuomo said. “This campaign builds upon this administration’s ongoing efforts to crack down on this reckless behavior, prevent more impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel, and avoid preventable tragedies."

The PSA is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h264, mp4) format here.

In 2015, the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research noted that New York State reported 1,433 crashes statewide in which drug-involved drivers were identified. Drug-involved drivers were involved in 15% (155 of 1,045) of all fatal motor vehicle crashes in 2015, resulting in 167 fatalities. This was up from 2014 where 10% (101 of 996) of all fatal motor vehicle crashes involved a drug-related driver which resulted in 113 fatalities.

According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 10 million people aged 12 or older reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the year prior to being surveyed. NSDUH findings also show that men are more likely than women to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In addition, a higher percentage of young adults aged 18 to 25 drive after taking drugs or drinking than do adults 26 or older.

"The danger of drugged driving in our communities is gravely real, and through awareness campaigns like this we are working to reduce tragedies and save lives on New York’s roadways,” said Acting GTSC Chair and DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan. “Drugged driving is a serious threat to New Yorkers of all ages, creating unneeded hazards and unnecessary heartbreak for families across the state. GTSC, in collaboration with its partner agencies, will continue to be aggressive in preventing drugged driving while raising awareness of its dangers.”

State and local law enforcement agencies work year round to prevent drugged driving across New York. In October, GTSC and the Department of Motor Vehicles congratulated 21 law enforcement officers from across New York State who recently completed extensive training and are now nationally certified as Drug Recognition Experts. New York has 253 certified DREs across the state. They are utilized by law enforcement officials when a driver appears to be impaired, but police have ruled out alcoholic beverage as the cause of impairment. A DRE receives extensive training that allows him/her to observe and document signs and indicators of impairment from each of the seven drug categories, including illicit and prescription drugs. The training allows DREs to make arrests and remove impaired drivers from New York State roadways, regardless of the drug or drug combinations that are causing impairment.

In addition to assigning a DRE to each sobriety checkpoint, State Police participate in the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement program. This advanced training provides Troopers with the skills to identify and articulate the signs and symptoms of drug and or alcohol impairment when a DRE is not on scene. The State Police also provides training to school nurses and administrators on how to identify and evaluate individuals who are abusing or impaired by drugs. One of the goals of the Drug Enforcement Training for Education Professionals program is to prevent impaired individuals from driving to and from schools and school events.

“Every year there are needless tragedies and a wake of victims left behind because of the decisions made by impaired drivers,” said New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II. “The New York State Police continue to work with our partners to stop these drivers from getting behind the wheel. It is through PSAs like this one, and enforcement, that we are working to make New York’s roads safer by discouraging, detecting and arresting impaired motorists. Please help us to make our roadways safer. Don’t drive drunk or drug impaired.”

The public awareness campaign builds on New York’s efforts under Governor Cuomo to combat the heroin and opioid crisis throughout the state. In June 2016, Governor Cuomo signed comprehensive legislation as part of a major initiative to increase access to treatment, expand community prevention strategies, and limit the over-prescription of opioids in New York. The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services is actively engaged in ensuring that all New Yorkers are aware of assistance available to them when dealing with a substance use disorder.

“All New Yorkers need to be aware that drugged driving is dangerous,” said NYS OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez. “This video will help to raise awareness, and we hope that it will also prompt those who are struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, to reach out for help. I encourage all New Yorkers to visit our website, oasas.ny.gov, to take advantage of the many resources available to help individuals and families address the disease of addiction.”

In addition, last year, GTSC and the State Office for the Aging launched a website to promote older driver safety titled “Safe Driving Tips for Older New Yorkers. Funded through a federal grant, the website encourages the use of online and in-person safety training, car safety check programs, and information and resources to help older drivers understand and prevent drugged and impaired driving.

Older drivers who are taking medications that are known to impair driving should consult their doctors about what precautions need to be taken while on that medication or if there are possible alternatives. They may also ask a friend or loved one for a ride or contact their local Office for the Aging to learn about transportation options available in their area.

“We applaud Governor Cuomo’s leadership in helping to raise awareness about the dangers of drugged driving,” said Acting Director of the New York State Office for the Aging Greg Olsen. “Many older adults take a variety of medications necessary to manage chronic conditions or pain. It is critically important to develop educational resources and talk with older New Yorkers and their families about the impact medications can have on operating motor vehicles and to develop alternatives to maximize public safety.”

For more information about driver safety programs across New York, click here

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