We Save Lives: Drugged, Distracted, and Drunken Driving

We Save Lives educates the public and policy makers about the dangers of the 3D’s. These are  Drugged, Distracted, and Drunken driving. It is led by the pioneering founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Candy Lightner.

We’ve made great progress in reducing alcohol-related traffic fatalities since 1980. That’s when Ms. Lightner began raising public awareness of the problem. The proportion of alcohol-related traffic deaths has fallen by over half since 1982.

But the proportion of traffic deaths NOT linked with alcohol has jumped over three-fourths during the same time. We’re winning the battle against alcohol-related traffic deaths. We’re losing it against other causes traffic deaths.1

A person killed by a drugged or distracted driver is just as dead as someone killed by a drunken driver. It makes no difference. Yet the dangers of drugged and distracted are largely unrecognized. We Save Lives is working hard to change that.

Drugged Driving

Of drivers stopped for reckless driving who had no trace of alcohol in their systems, 45% had marijuana and 25% had cocaine in their bodies.2  A study was made of randomly sampled interstate tractor-trailer drivers. It found that 15% of all drivers had marijuana and fewer than 1% had alcohol in their systems. Twelve percent  had non-prescription stimulants, 5% had prescription stimulants, 2% had cocaine in their bodies.3

And the problem is growing much worse. To learn more, visit Drugged Driving.

Some people have admitted that they do drugs rather than drive after drinking. That’s because arrests for drugged driving virtually never occur.

Distracted Driving

There are three major forms of driving distraction. One is visual distraction. People may take their eyes off the road for any of a number of reasons. Another is manual. This occurs when people take their hands off the wheel. The third is mental. It involves thinking about things other than driving.

Most people know that texting while driving is dangerous. But they may not know how very risky it really. It’s actually six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.4

We Save Lives reports the disturbing fact that in a recent study, 18% of drivers (nearly one of every five) said they have sent text messages or e-mails while driving.

There are many other distracting activities while driving.

  • Eating and drinking.
  • Reading maps or other things.
  • Using a navigation (GPS) system.
  • Combing hair or other personal grooming.
  • Talking to passengers.
  • Watching a video.
  • Disciplining children.
  • Adjusting radios.

The proportion of alcohol-related traffic deaths has dropped greatly. Yet far too many people are still being needlessly injured or killed from drunken driving. We need to remember that driving while impaired by alcohol is a preventable crime.

While addressing the serious problems of drugged and distracted driving, we cannot relax our efforts to continue reducing drunken driving.

we save livesWe Save Lives is committed to reducing the 3D’s of Drugged, Distracted, and Drunken driving.

Please remember that a person killed by a drugged or distracted driver is just as dead as someone killed by a drunk driver. Dead is dead.

Visit We Save Lives.

Please Note: This website is not associated with We Save Lives and does not benefit in any way from reviewing the goals and activities of the We Save Lives organization or its members.Logo used by permission. Please also note that We Save Lives is not associated with the medical-oriented We Save Lives Foundation.


  • 1. NHTSA. Motor Vehicle Crashes: Overview. Traffic Safety Facts, 2011, p. 2, Table 3;
  • 2. IIHS. Q&A: Alcohol: General.;www.highwaysafety.org/safety_facts/qanda/alcohol_general.htm.
  • 3. IIHS. Q&A:Drugs  www.highwaysafety.org/safety_facts/quanda/drugs.htm;
  • 4. Wilms, Todd. It Is Time For A ‘Parental Control, No Texting While Driving’ Phone. Forbes Business, September 18, 2012.

Readings for We Save Lives

  • Bosker, W.M. and Huestis, M.A. Oral fluid testing for drugs of abuse. Clin Chem. 2009, 55(11), 1910- 1931.
  • Brady, J.E., & Guohua, L. Trends in alcohol and other drugs detected in fatally injured drivers in the United States, 1999’“2010. Am J Epid. 2014, 179(6), 692-699.
  • Bramness, J.G., et al.  Impairment due to cannabis and ethanol. Addict. 2010, 10(6), 1080-1087.
  • Cafaro, T. Slipping through the cracks: why can’t we stop drugged driving? W New Eng Law Rev. 2010, 32, 33.
  • DuPont, R.L., et al.  Drugged Driving Research.. Rockville, MD: IBH, Inc. 2011.
  • DuPont, R.L. Prescription drug abuse J Psycho Drugs. 2010, 42(2), 127-132.
  • Elvik, R. Risk of road accident associated with the use of drugs. Accid Analy Prev. 2014, ePub, DOI: 10.1016/j.aap.2012.06.017, PMID:22785089.
  • Hosking, S. G., et al. The Effects of Text Messaging on Young Novice Driver Performance. Monash U.  Report No. 246.
  • Kay, G.G., and Logan, B.K. Drugged Driving Expert Panel report.(DOT HS 811 438). Washington, DC: NHTSA, 2011.
  • Lenné , M.G., et al.  The effects of cannabis and alcohol on simulated arterial driving. Acci Analy Prev. 2010, 42(3), 859-866.
  • NHTSA. National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers: Drug Results. Washington, DC: NHTSA, December. 2009.
  • Nemme, H. and White, K.M. Texting while driving. Acci Analy Prev. 2012, 42(4), 1257-1265.
  • Office of National Drug Control Policy. Working to Get Drugged Drivers off the Road. Fact Sheet, May, 2010.
  • Penning, R., et al. Drugs of abuse, driving and traffic safety. Curr Drug Ab Rev. 2010, 3(1), 23-32.
  • Sewell, R.A., et al.  The effect of cannabis compared with alcohol on driving. Am J Addict. 2009, 18(3), 185-193.