Research Papers

Reported Consumption and Presence of Alcohol and Drugs in Québec Drivers

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Date added June 8, 2003
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Category 2003–CMRSC-XIII–Banff
Tags Dr. Charles H. Miller Award Winner, session 9
Author/Auteur Bouchard J, Brault M
Award/Prix Dr. Charles H. Miller

Abstract

Joanne Bouchard and Maxime Brault

Joanne Bouchard and Maxime Brault

For the first time in Canada, drivers intercepted on Québec roads as part of a survey were asked to provide a urine sample in addition to their breath sample. This roadside survey conducted by the province's automobile insurance corporation, the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec, sought to estimate the incidence of alcohol and drug used by Québec drivers in 1999-2000. The presence of such substances in fatally injured drivers was also measured beginning in April 1999.

Among the 11,952 drivers randomly selected at almost 350 sites considered to be representative of the overall driving population in Québec, 96.8%agreed to supply a breath sample allowing an estimate of blood alcohol concentration in the body and 5,931 (49.6%) to provide a urine sample for the detection of drugs under study. Generally speaking, 0.9% of drivers were found to have a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit. During times when drinking is more prevalent, (Wednesday through Sunday from9 PM to 3 am) the proportion of drivers over the limit was 2.0%, compared with 3.2% in 1991. Urine samples revealed the presence of drugs in the following proportions of drivers: cannabis (6.7%), benzodiazepines (3.6%), cocaine (1.1%),opiates (1.2%), barbiturates(0.5%),amphetamines (0.1%), and PCP (0.03%). Wide variations were observed according to the sample time, the gender and the age of drivers.

Among fatally injured drivers, preliminary results show that alcohol is the most prevalent substance, being found in 35% of cases. Other substances were also found in 17.8% of drivers killed and a drug-alcohol combination in 12.4% of cases. The roadside incidence is compared with that found among deceased drivers.

In addition to detailed results on the incidence of substance use found, the presentation gives data gathered from a questionnaire administered roadside in an effort to determine if the reported consumption of drugs or alcohol reflects actual substance use as revealed by toxicology analyses.

Bouchard J, Brault M