Monday, September 17, 2018
Attorney General Jeff Sessions today delivered these remarks at a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration event titled "Ideas to Impact: A Dialogue to Address Drug-Impaired Driving." Here are excerpts:
It is especially important that we get the word out about this because currently there is a great deal of misinformation and misunderstanding out there. Some even seem to suggest that marijuana and other drugs do not pose accident risks.
In recent years, a number of states have repealed their prohibitions on marijuana use. As a result, too many people think that marijuana is legal and that it is even legal to drive under the influence of marijuana.
That’s wrong. Federal law has not changed and drugged driving laws have not changed. Drugged driving is illegal on every inch of American soil. People need to understand that.
There is another common myth out there, as well: that marijuana doesn’t impair driving. That’s also wrong. Marijuana use slows reaction time and inhibits motor coordination and decision-making abilities. That makes driving much more dangerous.
The bottom line is this: if you’re driving under the influence of drugs, including marijuana, then you’re risking your life — and the life of everyone else on the road.
One European study found that drivers high on marijuana were twice as likely to be responsible for a fatal crash as a sober driver.
Here in this country, the Governors Highway Safety Association put out a report back in May that says that — of those who are tested for drugs or alcohol — more drivers killed in car accidents last year tested positive for drugs than for alcohol. And by far the most common drug was marijuana, not opioids. Nearly a quarter of all drivers killed in car accidents who were tested had marijuana in their system — twice as many as tested positive for opioids.
In recent years, it has been getting worse. According to last year’s version of the report, the number of drivers killed in car accidents who tested positive for marijuana increased by nearly one-fifth from 2006 to 2016.
According to the Denver Post, the number of drivers killed in car accidents in Colorado who tested positive for marijuana doubled from 2013 to 2016. And so, in addition to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have died of drug overdoses in recent years, another several thousand have died because of drug-impaired driving — either their own or that of someone else.