An in-depth examination of driver fatalities involving drugs

The present project was designed to help understand the involvement of drugs in motor vehicle driver fatalities. A total of 500 coroner files from three Canadian provinces were matched with crash records and reviewed in an attempt to identify the extent to which the use of drugs (and/or alcohol) may have contributed to the crash. Attribution of the role of alcohol and/or drugs was based on evidence such as police reports of contributing factors, coroners’ statements, witness statements of erratic driving or impairment, the presence of adverse environmental or vehicular factors, and evidence of alternative explanations for the crash. Whereas the typical alcohol-related driver fatality involved a single vehicle with a male driver aged 45 to 54 leaving the road late at night on a weekend, the crashes of drug-positive drivers were more likely to involve female drivers, all age groups, and occur during daylight hours, on weekdays, and involve more than one vehicle. In 49 per cent of cases where drugs were present, the drugs were deemed to have played a moderate or strong role in the crash. Among the cases where only alcohol was present, alcohol was deemed to be a moderate or strong factor in 96 per cent of them. In cases where both drugs and alcohol were present, the combination of substances was deemed to be a contributing factor in 97.2 per cent of crashes. The findings confirmed the prominent, strong influence of alcohol in fatal crashes and provided new evidence of the contributory role of drugs. The results of this study provide valuable information that has implications for prevention and enforcement.


  • English

Media Info

  • Pagination: 78-83
  • Monograph Title: 20th International Conference on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety Conference Proceedings, 25-28 August 2013, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Brisbane, Australia

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01495641
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: ARRB
  • Files: ITRD, ATRI
  • Created Date: Oct 17 2013 10:10AM