NHTSA, CDOT & Other Agencies Launch "If You Feel Different, You Drive Different" Campaign

Oct. 9 2018 - Drug-Impaired Driving Is Dangerous Driving

DENVER—Today, officials from CDOT, the Colorado State Patrol (CSP), the Colorado Task Force on Drunk and Impaired Driving (CTFDID) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration joined together to spread the word about the dangers of drug-impaired driving, and to remind all drivers that if they are impaired they must pass their keys on to a sober driver.

The message is clear: If You Feel Different, You Drive Different, which is the name of NHTSA's new campaign about drugged driving. Last year drivers in fatal crashes in Colorado tested positive for drugs 244 times. This included stimulants, depressants, narcotics and active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

In Colorado, 20 percent of people who use cannabis admit to driving after using marijuana, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

NHTSA's 2013/14 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers found that nearly one in four weekend drivers tested positive for at least one drug that could impair their ability to drive safely.

"We launched this new public education campaign to make sure everyone knows that driving under the influence of drugs impairs your ability to assess whether you are OK to drive," said Heidi King, NHTSA deputy administrator. "We're reminding all drivers that 'If you feel different, you drive different. Drive high, get a DUI.' Because whether you're driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or opioids, it's all impaired driving."

On average, more than 60 people are arrested each day in Colorado for impaired driving. Violating Colorado's DUI law includes driving under the influence of any impairing substance, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, illegal drugs and alcohol. Impaired driving can cost more than $13,500 in financial impacts, including incarceration and loss of a license. Under Colorado law, drivers with five nanograms of active THC in their blood can be prosecuted for driving under the influence (DUI). Even people who use marijuana for medicinal purposes can be arrested for DUI.

"If something impacts your ability to operate a vehicle safely, it makes you a hazard to yourself and to others" says CSP Chief Colonel Matt Packard. "Too many times we have had to notify family members that their loved one is not coming home because of a bad decision to drive impaired by alcohol or drugs. It's a choice—a deadly choice."

Impaired-driving traffic crashes happen daily on Colorado roads. Ongoing education and outreach campaigns in recent years have successfully raised awareness for this issue, but much more needs to be done to change behaviors. Most campaigns have historically focused on alcohol; but, with the legalization of recreational marijuana and the opioid epidemic ravaging many communities, drugged driving campaigns are becoming more common.

"Eliminating drugged driving on our roadways is an important and long-term goal for CDOT," said CDOT Executive Director Michael Lewis. "We welcome NHTSA's efforts to educate the public about the dangers of driving while impaired by drugs, and we are committed to the success of those efforts. This is a shared priority as we move Colorado toward zero deaths on our roadways."

In February, CDOT—with partners across the state representing the cannabis industry, community nonprofits, universities, law enforcement and others—launched "The Cannabis Conversation" to gain a better understanding of public perceptions and behavior patterns on cannabis use and driving. That effort will continue into 2019 as CDOT works to develop a new awareness campaign.

Drugs can slow the reaction times of drivers, impair cognitive performance, effect judgement and hinder muscle control, which can cause weaving, speeding and other unsafe driving behaviors.

Play It Safe: Remember these safety tips as you drive

  • If a driver has ingested an impairing substance, such as prescription drugs, sleep medication, marijuana, or any form of illegal drug, he or she should not drive.
  • Never ride with an impaired driver. If you think a driver may be impaired, do not get in the car with them.
  • If you are drug-impaired, pass the car keys to a sober driver who can safely drive you to your destination. It is never okay to drive while impaired by any substance.
  • If you know someone who is about to drive impaired, arrange to get them home safely.
  • Download NHTSA's SaferRide mobile app, available on Google Play for Android devices. SaferRide allows users to call a taxi or a predetermined friend, and identifies the user's location so he or she can be picked up.
  • If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact 911 or *CSP.