New Web-Based Resource Launched to Help Prevent Drug-Impaired Driving
The Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), in partnership with State Farm® Canada, has launched a Drug-Impaired Driving Learning Centre (DIDLC). The Centre is a web-based resource that was designed to share the latest research about the problem, increase awareness, and inform the development of effective strategies to tackle it.
Drug-impaired driving has become a top priority among governments, law enforcement, and other road safety stakeholders in the past few years. Increases in the proportion of drivers who self-report driving within two hours of consuming drugs, combined with increases in the proportion of drivers killed in road crashes who tested positive for drugs, warrant attention and concern. Public awareness of the impairing effects of many drugs is quite low, and strategies to reduce the prevalence of this problem are much needed.
The effects of alcohol consumption on driving are widely acknowledged; however, much less is known about the effects of different drugs on driving. This, in combination with the permissive attitudes among young drivers towards marijuana and driving, suggests that work is needed to increase awareness about the risks.
“More public awareness and education about the impacts of drug-impaired driving are essential to combatting its consequences,” said John Bordignon, Media Relations State Farm Canada. “Recent State Farm surveys reveal about half of cannabis users that drive feel the drug does not negatively affect their ability to operate a motor vehicle. With impending legalization of recreational marijuana and the opioid crisis in parts of Canada, a factual, publicly available resource like the DIDLC is a valuable tool that can help prevent injury and save lives.”
“The science of drug impairment is much more complex as compared to alcohol impairment,” said Robyn Robertson, President & CEO of TIRF. “The multitude and diversity of legal and illegal drugs, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter medications that can impair driving is substantial. Moreover, the impairing effects of some drugs may vary based on user characteristics and the conditions under which drugs are consumed.”
The good news is that research investigating drug-impaired driving has grown exponentially in the past few years. Studies exploring this topic have been conducted across many disciplines including road safety, justice, health, and neuroscience to name a few. The bad news is that this rapid proliferation of research can make it challenging for decision-makers, governments, law enforcement and health practitioners to keep pace with the latest knowledge.
“Drug-impaired driving is a source of concern for many stakeholders because this cross-cutting issue affects drivers of all ages,” said Dr. Ward Vanlaar, Chief Operating Officer at TIRF. “According to TIRF’s National Fatality Database, 44.5% of drivers killed in road crashes tested positive for drugs in 2013; a larger proportion than those drivers testing positive for alcohol (31.6%). Whereas young drivers were more likely to test positive for marijuana, older drivers were more likely to test positive for prescription drugs.”
TIRF created the DIDLC to support the efforts of governments and road safety stakeholders to prevent and reduce drug-impaired driving. This comprehensive resource contains several modules and is structured in a user-friendly, accessible, question and answer format. It also includes a variety of fact sheets that can be used by health professionals, teachers, parents and teens to increase knowledge and awareness about drug-impaired driving. The resource can be accessed at: www.druggeddriving.tirf.ca.
According to TIRF’s 2016 Road Safety Monitor on Drugs & Driving:
- Approximately 2.2% of drivers self-reported driving within two hours of using marijuana in 2016 compared to 1.6% in 2013.
According to the Alcohol and Drug Crash Problem in Canada 2013 Report:
- In 2013 fatally injured young drivers (26-35 years old) were more likely to test positive for drugs (50.3%) than any other age group.
- Male drivers accounted for 76.2% of all fatally injured drivers who tested positive for drugs.
- Fatally injured drivers who tested positive for drugs were more likely to be involved in a single vehicle collision (48.2%).
- Among those who tested positive for drugs, cannabis was the most frequently detected drug among fatally injured drivers.