Economic Evaluations of Roadside Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID) Programs

Drug-impaired driving is a significant safety concern, especially for cannabis - the most frequently detected drug after alcohol in drivers who have crashed. Besides cannabis, many other drugs including anxiolytics, hypnotics, sedatives, etc., could also contribute to crash risk. Numerous states are moving toward legalization or decriminalization of cannabis. Doing so creates a dilemma for traffic safety professionals who recognize these actions may increase traffic deaths and serious injuries. An effective countermeasure is needed to counteract drug use while driving. Policies to deter driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) require sound scientific evidence for measuring and detecting drug prevalence. Deterring DUID requires accurate roadside screening and detection for drugs. In this regard, drug screening and detection methods based on oral fluid (OF) samples are becoming increasingly popular, as the method is minimally invasive and appears effective in detecting many types of drugs. However, issues associated with the accuracy of screening technologies to identify time of drug use, and to assess whether the amount of drug detected was impairing limit the use of this approach. The Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) program trains officers to be Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) who, following a request by a responding officer, assist the officer in determining drug impairment. Despite mixed results regarding the efficiency of DREs to detect drug impairment, DREs have become a sound strategy for DUID detection. However, the use of DREs presents limitations, including the substantial time and cost required for training DREs and a progressive reduction in the DRE force, which may be at least in part responsible for a severe decline in callouts for DREs by responding officers who get frustrated by a lack of rapid responses (or even any response at all) when reaching out for DREs. A shortage of DREs has been identified in several states as the main limitation of the program. The Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) training has been posited by MADD as a way to bridge the gap between Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) and DRE training, and provides police officers with the basic skills to identify and detect drug-impaired drivers. Given the shortage of DREs, it has been posited that widening ARIDE training to reach as many patrol officers as possible may be a sensible alternative. This possibility needs to be assessed. Because every resource has a cost, the optimal design, implementation, and use of policies should be guided by what is both scientifically and economically sound. Economic evaluations of policy alternatives should help decide which among them can reasonably be implemented by a given jurisdiction which in turn will increase the implementation of DUID programs that lower crash potential for all concerned stakeholders and road users. The use of OF samples, the DRE observations, and the ARIDE training are methodologies used to screen for DUID. Each of these present many strengths and but also weaknesses, and each are associated with specific benefits and costs. This research intends to outline these issues, benefits, and cost to highlight the value of these needed safety programs in addressing crash reduction. Moreover, given the increasing difficulties associated with recruiting police officers in general, and in training, using, and retaining DREs in particular, it would be useful to assess whether it would be more cost efficient to provide intensive training on how to collect oral fluid specimens for drug-detection to as many officers as possible and to extend the ARIDE training to as many officers as possible. The objectives of this research are to: (1) Assess the cost-effectiveness of alternative drug screening approaches. More specifically, the goal of Aim 1 is to estimate the monetized cost that would be needed to reach a specific screening target (i.e., to identify a percentage of drug-impaired drivers) by widening the ARIDE training; and compare this cost with the cost needed for the DRE/Drug Evaluation Classification (DEC) program to reach similar results. This aim will explore the cost-effectiveness of the approaches under comparison for a range of targets (i.e., the identification of a range of percentages of drug--impaired drivers) and a range of assumptions regarding the percentage of ARIDE and/or DRE training, and the sensitivity and specificity (the percent of correct and false outcomes) demonstrated by each detection approach. The research team will also conduct a review of the literature to identify alternate strategies for quantifying the effectiveness of the different approaches to DUID detection. (2) Assess the costs and benefits associated with policies requiring the collection of oral fluid at the roadside to screen and confirm all drivers suspected of impairment, compared with some law enforcement procedures that halt efforts once a suspect’s BAC is determined to be at or above the per se limit. Aim 2 can be viewed as a variation of Aim 1, in which the screening for drugs is halted (or not) after impairment by alcohol is established. As with Aim 1, a range of targets and assumptions will be examined. (3) Inform traffic safety professionals about the costs and benefits associated with alternative DUID crash countermeasures. The information to be provided by this study will be useful to safety professionals in the strategic highway safety planning, development, and implementation of infrastructure and behavioral safety programs, so that holistic and cost-efficient road safety strategies can be developed to reduce fatal and serious injury crashes to greatest extent possible.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $500000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project BTS-15

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Governors Highway Safety Association

    444 N. Capitol Street, NW, Suite 722
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, D.C.  United States  20590

    Behavioral Traffic Safety Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Retting, Richard

  • Start Date: 20220719
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01851881
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project BTS-15
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: Jul 19 2022 12:40PM