New York Senator Charles Schumer is pushing for passage of a bill which will help fund the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and their efforts to develop adequate testing, roadside, to determine if a driver is under the influence of prescription medication. The bill is called the Motor Vehicle and Highway Safety Improvement Act of 2011

New York has seen the number of ‘drugged driving’ arrests sky rocket 35% since 2001, although police suspect the number of drivers who could have been arrested in much higher. The problem for officers is that unlike drivers who are under the influence of alcohol, there is no roadside test to determine if someone is under the influence of prescription medication. Without a blood test there is no way for police to know if a driver is on drugs or not. That means that unless they have some reasonable cause to think they are under of the influence of something, like, they just slammed their car into a tree, there is nothing they can do to stop them.

Schumer believes with adequate funding the NHTSA can help devise a roadside kit police could use in their efforts to control what he believes is a rampant problem. If the Motor Vehicle and Highway Safety Improvement Act of 2011 passes, the Department of Transportation will work to provide either increased education or some sort of physical test kit, or perhaps both, to assist police officers in determining when or if a driver may be under the influence of prescription medication.

Schumer has been quoted as saying: “With the explosive growth of prescription drug abuse it’s vital that local law enforcement have the tools and training they need to identify those driving under the influence of narcotics to get them off the road. We have made tremendous progress in combating drunk driving, we cannot allow those gains to be erased by drugged drivers.”

At the moment it is impossible to know just how many drivers might be on the road with prescription medication in their system, either legally or illegally, or how much prescription might might impair their ability to operate their vehicle. If the DOT receives the proposed funding it is quite possible they will be able to devise tools which will help keep drugged drivers off the road and defensive drivers safe.

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