Nearly one in eight drivers 16 and older drove under the influence of alcohol in the past year, and more than 4 percent drove under the influence of illicit drugs, says a federal government report that USA Today says sheds alarming light on the problem of impaired driving. An estimated 30.6 million people drove under the influence of alcohol, and an estimated 10.1 million drove under the influence of illicit drugs in the past year, said the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
The estimates are based on surveys of 213,350 people 16 and older from 2006 through 2009 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA). Alcohol-impaired driving rates for the period 2006-09 compared with 2002-05 fell from 14.6% to 13.2%. Drugged-driving rates over the same periods fell from 4.8% to 4.3%. “We can be pleasantly surprised that the numbers are going down,” says Peter Delany, director of the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. “That doesn’t mean that they’re great, but the numbers are going in the right direction. But it’s not where we can rest on our laurels.”