Research Papers

Drug and Alcohol Use among Drivers: Findings from the British Columbia Roadside Survey 2008

Filename cmrsc19_48.pdf
Filesize 787 KB
Version 1
Date added June 7, 2009
Downloaded 4 times/fois
Category 2009–CMRSC-XIX–Saskatoon
Tags Dr. Charles H. Miller Award Winner, Session 6B
Author/Auteur Erin Beasley, Douglas J. Beirness
Award/Prix Dr. Charles H. Miller


A random survey of drivers was conducted at randomly selected locations in British Columbia from Wednesday to Saturday nights in June 2008. The purpose was to collect information on the prevalence of alcohol and drug use among nighttime drivers. Those surveyed were asked to provide a voluntary breath sample to measure their alcohol use and an oral fluid sample to be tested subsequently for the presence of drugs. Of the 1,533 vehicles selected, 89% of drivers provided a breath sample and 78% provided an oral fluid sample. It was found that 10.4% of drivers tested positive for drug use and 8.1% of drivers had been drinking. Overall, 15.5% of drivers tested positive for alcohol, drugs or both. Cannabis and cocaine were the drugs most frequently detected. It appears that drug use and alcohol use have different patterns of use. (Characteristics of the sample and characteristics of the drivers are discussed). Whereas alcohol use among drivers was most common on weekends and during late-night hours, drug us was more evenly distributed across all survey nights and times. Alcohol use was most common among drivers aged 19 to 24 and 25 to 34; drug use was more evenly distributed across all groups. The finding that drug use is now more common than alcohol use among drivers highlights the need for a societal response to the use of drugs by drivers comparable to that directed at drinking and driving over the past three decades.

Erin Beasley, Douglas J. Beirness