Research Papers

Drugs and Driving Framework

Filename CMRSC-Paper-on-Drugs-and-Driving-Framework-Feb-10.pdf
Filesize 227 KB
Version 1
Date added June 10, 2012
Downloaded 8 times/fois
Category 2012 CMRSC XXII Banff
Tags Dr. Charles H. Miller Award Winner, Session 6A
Author/Auteur Brian Jonah
Award/Prix Dr. Charles H. Miller


This paper describes a Drugs and Driving Framework which provides an environmental scan of the effects of drugs on driving, recent Canadian research on drugs and driving, current activities in Canada in legislation/policy, enforcement/adjudication, public awareness/education, health promotion, and technology addressing drugs and driving. The major categories of drugs are cannabis, central nervous system (CNS) depressants, CNS stimulants, hallucinogens, dissociative anesthetics, narcotic analgesics, and inhalants which affect driver performance in different ways (e.g., sedation, lack of attention, risk taking). Canadian data indicates that drugs and driving is a serious road safety problem which rivals alcohol impaired driving. Coroner testing of drivers who were fatally injured during 2008 indicates that about 40% of drivers tested had alcohol in their body while 37% had one or more other drugs, mainly cannabis, depressants, or stimulants. The prevalence of drugs in fatally injured drivers has increased by 24% since 2000. A 2010 roadside survey in BC showed that while about 10% of night-time drivers had been drinking, about 7% had been using other drugs. Canada has federal criminal legislation and provincial/territorial administrative laws addressing drug impaired drivers. Drivers suspected of drug impairment must submit to roadside physical performance tests by police and if there are reasonable and probable grounds of drug impairment, they can be tested by a specially trained drug recognition evaluator (DRE) and required to provide a body fluid sample. Several jurisdictions apply administrative sanctions (e.g., 24 hour suspension) if there is behavioural evidence that the driver is impaired by drugs or they refuse to be tested. Although there are several jurisdictional activities to raise public awareness about the drugs and driving problem, there have not been significant efforts to raise awareness through the wide-spread use of mass and social media. Most jurisdictions have assessment and treatment programs for impaired drivers but it is not known whether the current efforts are having an impact on drugs and driving. Several short term activities are offered that could be adopted by stakeholders to address the drugs and driving problem.

Brian Jonah