December is U.S. National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

Dec 13, 2022

Since 2009, December has been designated as the U.S. National Impaired Driving Prevention Month (previously being called National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month) which aims to raise awareness of the consequences of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2019, over 28 million US residents, which represents 11.2% of all U.S. residents ages 16 and up, drove under the influence of alcohol or illicit substances at least once. Moreover, among residents aged 18 to 25, 14.8% drove under the influence at least once that year. Finally, the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA) reported that in 2019 during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, 210 individuals died due to alcohol-impaired driving crashes.

In 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) launched the Clearinghouse – a secure, online database created to contain a centralized record of positive drug and alcohol test results of holders of commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) or commercial learner’s permits (CLPs). Notably, FMSCA’s core mission is to reduce commercial motor vehicle-related crashes and fatalities.

Essentially, the Clearinghouse regulations require FMCSA-regulated employers, Medical Review Officers, Substance Abuse Professionals, consortia/third-party administrators, and other service agents to report to the Clearinghouse information related to violations of FMCSA’s drug and alcohol testing regulations by current and prospective employees.

In addition, employers are required to use the Clearinghouse in the following ways:

● Employers must query the Clearinghouse for current and prospective employees’ drug and alcohol program violations before permitting those employees to operate a commercial motor vehicle on public roads.

● Employers are required to query the Clearinghouse annually for each driver they currently employ.

● State driver licensing agencies are required to query the Clearinghouse each time a CDL (commercial driver’s license) is issued, renewed, transferred, or upgraded.

The Clearinghouse also records refusals to test, and employers’ actual knowledge of drug and alcohol program violations, as the repercussions for these are the same as for positive test results.

Data released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death and nonfatal injury among U.S. adolescents, resulting in approximately 2,500 deaths and 300,000 nonfatal injuries each year.

In recent years, there have been numerous education campaigns launched in the U.S. to raise awareness of the impacts of impaired driving among families, educators, healthcare providers, and community leaders to reduce the incidence of motor vehicle accidents, injuries, and deaths.

This includes continued underage alcohol prevention programs, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration providing community materials for numerous types of impaired driving prevention education and awareness campaigns. In addition, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has provided a guide for parents to discuss impaired driving with their children.