Stoned drivers: UVIC part of study on marijuana impairment

July 29, 2011

A University of Victoria researcher is a co-investigator for a study on whether drivers who are high on marijuana cause more crashes than sober drivers.

Scott Macdonald is a scientist at UVic’s Centre for Addictions Research (CARBC) and co-investigator in the Cannabis and Crashes: A Multicentre Culpability Study— which is the first of its kind in Canada.

“This is the first study in Canada to compare the active THC levels of those responsible for crashes with those not responsible in non-fatal crashes,” says Macdonald. “A similar study was conducted in Australia for fatally injured drivers and the authors found those with active THC in their blood were significantly more likely to be responsible for their crashes.”

The study is led by Dr. Jeffrey Brubacher, an emergency doctor at Vancouver General Hospital.

Over the next five years, blood samples will be taken from those involved in vehicle accidents where a blood sample is required for treatment. After police reports are analyzed to determine which drivers cause the crash, their identification will be stripped from police records before their blood samples are analyzed for THC—the active ingredient in pot.

This will indicate to researchers whether use contributed to the accident and may help traffic safety experts develop safer driving policies. According to the Insurance Bureau of British Columbia, impairment is one of the top three contributing factors for fatal car crashes. Each year, on average, 126 people die in motor vehicle involving impaired driving and approximately 32 per cent of motor vehicle fatalities are related to impaired driving.

A recent study on substance use among nighttime drivers in Vancouver, Saanich and Abbotsford found that patterns of drug driving appear to be different from patterns of alcohol and driving. For example, alcohol use among drivers is most common on weekend nights and increases later at night. Drug use is more evenly spread throughout times and days. The study also revealed that 15.5 per cent of drivers tested positive for drugs, alcohol or both; that cannabis and cocaine were the drugs most frequently detected in drivers; and that alcohol use was most common among drivers aged 19 to 24 and 25 to 34 while drug use was more evenly distributed across all age groups.

Last year, CARBC launched a new outreach program aimed at ensuring that youth and young adults understand just how lethal it is to mix drugs. The province-wide project will use a number of different methods, including social media, to educate people between the ages of 16 to 24 who are new .

Explore further: Drug use tied to fatal car crashes

More information: DOI:10.1080/15389581003735626

Related Stories

Drug use tied to fatal car crashes

June 23, 2011
It's well known that drunk driving can have fatal consequences, but a new study suggests that alcohol is not the only drug that’s a danger on the road.

Recommended for you

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

Team eradicates hepatitis C in 10 patients following lifesaving transplants from infected donors

April 30, 2017
Ten patients at Penn Medicine have been cured of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following lifesaving kidney transplants from deceased donors who were infected with the disease. The findings point to new strategies for increasing ...

'bench to bedside to bench': Scientists call for closer basic-clinical collaborations

March 24, 2017
In the era of genome sequencing, it's time to update the old "bench-to-bedside" shorthand for how basic research discoveries inform clinical practice, researchers from The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), National Human Genome Research ...

The ethics of tracking athletes' biometric data

January 18, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—Whether it is a FitBit or a heart rate monitor, biometric technologies have become household devices. Professional sports leagues use some of the most technologically advanced biodata tracking systems to ...

Financial ties between researchers and drug industry linked to positive trial results

January 18, 2017
Financial ties between researchers and companies that make the drugs they are studying are independently associated with positive trial results, suggesting bias in the evidence base, concludes a study published by The BMJ ...

Best of Last Year – The top Medical Xpress articles of 2016

December 23, 2016
(Medical Xpress)—It was a big year for research involving overall health issues, starting with a team led by researchers at the UNC School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health who unearthed more evidence that ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.