SWOV Catalogus

331917

A comparison of drug- and alcohol-involved motor vehicle driver fatalities.
20110588 ST [electronic version only]
Beasley, E.E. Beirness, D.J. & Porath-Waller, A.J.
Ottawa, ON, Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse CCSA, 2011, IV + 35 p., 14 ref.

Samenvatting Drugs and driving is an emerging issue both within Canada and internationally, but knowledge about this topic is still in its infancy. This project was designed to complement and extend our previous and ongoing work on drug-impaired driving. Data from two distinct sources (coroners‘ reports and motor vehicle crash records) were merged to compare and contrast the circumstances and characteristics of fatally injured drivers of motor vehicles who have used either alcohol, drugs or both, and the crashes in which they were involved. The first of these datasets, the Fatality Database, houses information on all persons killed in motor vehicle collisions in Canada. This database contains the results of alcohol and drug tests performed by coroners on victims of motor vehicle collisions in Canada. These data were linked with detailed information about the crash contained in the National Collision Database, which is collected and maintained by Transport Canada. From 2000—2007, 12,978 drivers died in vehicle crashes on public roadways in Canada. Of these driver fatalities, 84.0% were tested for alcohol and 46.4% were tested for drugs. There were 5,929 drivers that were tested for both alcohol and drugs. Of these drivers, 2,689 (45.4%) had no alcohol or drugs present, 1,097 (18.5%) tested positive for a psychoactive drug (but negative for alcohol), 1,301 (21.9%) tested positive for alcohol only, and 842 (14.2%) drivers tested positive for both alcohol and at least one psychoactive drug. These findings indicate that the extent of drug use among fatally injured drivers (33%) is comparable to that of alcohol use (37%). The most common psychoactive substances found among fatally injured drivers were central nervous system depressants, cannabis, central nervous system stimulants, and narcotic analgesics. Different patterns of drug use by gender and age were also evident. An examination of the circumstances and factors associated with the crash provides evidence that collisions involving drugs were very different in nature than those involving alcohol. For example, whereas alcohol-involved fatal crashes were most common during early morning hours on weekends, drug-involved fatal crashes were more likely than alcohol-involved crashes to occur during daytime hours on weekdays. There was also a tendency for alcohol-involved crashes to involve a single vehicle; drug-involved crashes were more likely to involve more than one vehicle. The overall pattern of findings indicates that the use of drugs by drivers is an issue distinct and separate from that of alcohol use by drivers and therefore requires a unique approach to prevention, education and enforcement to reduce the number of fatal crashes involving driver drug use and improve overall road safety in Canada. (Author/publisher)
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