SWOV Catalogus


Drugs and medicines. [Previously called The use of drugs and medicines behind the wheel.]
C 45597 [electronic version only] /83 /

The Hague, SWOV - Institute for Road Safety Research, 2020, Pp., 61 ref.; SWOV Fact sheet

Samenvatting Driving under the influence of drugs or impairing medicines reduces fitness to drive[i] and increases crash risk. Drugs have a numbing, stimulating or mind-altering effect on the brain, or a combination of these effects, which impair traffic task performance. For drug use in traffic, we (unfortunately) have to rely on research dating back to 2011. This research showed that, in the Netherlands, an approximate 3.4% of drivers participated in traffic under the influence of drugs and/or medicines and that over 2% of the car kilometres were travelled under the influence of drugs. There are no recent representative data about drug use in traffic. Judging by these older data and recent figures about newly emerging drugs, cannabis seems to be the drug most often used by road users who are under the influence of drugs, and cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines – and more recently – laughing gas (nitrous oxide) are also often used. The exact number of road casualties on account of drug use is unknown. Risk groups for driving under the influence of drugs or medicines are young drivers (drugs) and older adult drivers (multiple medicines). Among drivers, knowledge about the dangers of drugs and medicines needs improving. Yet, even well-informed drugged drivers sometimes keep driving. Possible mechanisms that come into play are: overestimation of one’s own abilities, optimistic comparisons (‘my tolerance to the effects is higher’; ‘drugs are less dangerous that alcohol’), and a lack of alternative modes of transport. Possible measures against driving under the influence of drugs or medicines are improving drug tests and enhancing medicine and drug enforcement (provided this does not reduce the number of alcohol checks). Information about the effect of alcohol on road safety can be found in SWOV fact sheet Driving under the influence of alcohol at https://www.swov.nl/en/facts-figures/factsheet/driving-under-influence-alcohol.
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