Webinar Series

Measuring the Impact of Drug-Impaired Driving in Canada: Developing National Indicators

July 22, 2020   |   Categories: Webinar Series

Presenter

Shawna Meister, M.A., is a Senior Research and Policy Analyst with the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA). She conducts research on alcohol- and drug-impaired driving and impairment affecting the workplace. Her background includes research and publications on various road safety issues (impaired driving, automated vehicles, cognitive impairment, driver testing, wildlife, and vulnerable road users), alcohol and cannabis use, road user behaviour, substance use and safety-sensitive industries, and substance use and workplace policies.

Title of Abstract

Measuring the Impact of Drug-Impaired Driving in Canada: Developing National Indicators

Background

Canada lacks a standardized set of comprehensive and informative national indicators to measure adequately the full impact of drug-impaired driving (DID). Although important information is available through some data, such as number of fatalities and arrest rates, these data are limited, not always collected, under-reported, or inconsistently collected or reported. Other national data that could help broaden our understanding of the issue of DID, such as hospitalization data on injured individuals, are missing.

Aims

To effectively prevent collisions, better understand the extent of the problem and improve approaches to addressing DID, a national set of targeted, standardized indicators that use data collected regularly from various sources are required. We collaborated with agencies and experts (e.g., justice departments, law enforcement, emergency room doctors, etc.) across Canada to identify and recommend indicators to better measure the impact of DID. We then formed an expert Advisory Committee to use this information to develop a set of national indicators. This presentation discusses the findings from the initial consultations.

Methods

We consulted 106 professionals, frontline practitioners, researchers, and experts in DID. We asked four guiding questions: what type of indicators do you use to measure DID; what indicators do you recommend Canada use; are there potential barriers or solutions to these recommendations; and is there anything else we should know. We summarized the findings by agency type (e.g., law enforcement, hospitals, statistics bureaus) and reported according to the discussion questions. There was high homogeneity in responses.

Results

A limited amount of data are collected and reported across Canada, and not all are consistently or systematically collected. Two primary sources of data include DID incidents investigated by law enforcement and DID fatalities investigated by coroners/medical examiners. Gaps or minimal data collection include hospitalization data, roadside survey data, and polysubstance use among others. Barriers to collecting DID data include financial, technological, and training limitations. Recommendations include to collect data in these areas, as well as to improve interagency coordination and data sharing.

Discussion

Since the majority of DID data comes from two sources we have a partial and potentially skewed understanding of the issue and, therefore, a reduced ability to address it. Hospitalization data will require methods that maintain patient anonymity, while regular and national roadside surveys require increased funding. Other data, such as fatality data, require digitization and standardization across Canada. To reduce inefficiencies and increase effectiveness in addressing DID, agencies would like a centralized and linked data system potentially modeled on approaches in use elsewhere.

Conclusions

To the best of our knowledge this is the first report to provide a detailed overview of the context, challenges, and potential solutions to measuring the impact of DID in Canada. The findings provide the Advisory Committee a foundational document to draw from while making recommendations, and provide others involved in addressing DID insights to improving intra- and inter-agency data collection. Overall, although Canada collects important DID data, there are a number of data gaps and implementation issues limiting our ability to fully understand and address the issue.