Rosekind, Ehsani and Michael published a June 2020 Commentary in JAMA Internal Medicine calling for more data to inform policies needed to reduce impaired driving fatalities. Although we are a strong proponent of more data for that purpose, we took issue with two of the authors’ specific recommendations:
- More crash risk studies like the NHTSA-sponsored Virginia Beach study, and
- Improved FARS data.
JAMA Internal Medicine published our disagreements and the authors’ response Nov. 16, 2020:
Rosekind et al.’s June Commentary lauded the NHTSA-sponsored Virginia Beach study developed while Rosekind was NHTSA’s administrator. The study failed to find a link between crash risk and the use of any drug other than alcohol. The failure of that $6 million study was due to study design flaws documented in our posting of 7/6/2020, Not finding something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. We summarized that study’s failures in our Comment to JAMA Internal Medicine.
We pointed out that whereas crash risk studies have proven successful to understanding the safety effects of alcohol use and driving, their ability to the same with drugged driving is much less certain. Conducting sound studies in a world where impairment by other drugs is more common than alcohol impairment (see our posting of 7/17/2020 Stoned driving more common than drunk driving) compromises even the best crash study design. Alcohol’s unique pharmacokinetics compared with other drugs makes the problem even worse.
Rosekind et al. acknowledged the difficulty of drugged driving crash risk studies, but for reasons not specified, believed they held promise of being valuable in the future.
We also criticized reliance on FARS as a tool to understand drugged driving, urging a study of a more broad-based DUI population rather than simply traffic fatalities. Rosekind did not address that suggestion.
It seems to us that if the rut you are following doesn’t lead you where you wish to go, it might be best to set off in a new direction.