Prevalence of alcohol and drug use in injured British Columbia drivers

Objectives: Determine the prevalence of drug use in injured drivers and identify associated demographic factors and crash characteristics. Design: Prospective cross-sectional study. Setting: Seven trauma centres in British Columbia, Canada (2010–2012).Participants: Automobile drivers who had blood obtained within 6 h of a crash. Main outcome measures: The authors analysed blood for cannabis, alcohol and other impairing drugs using liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LCMS).Results 1097 drivers met inclusion criteria. 60% were aged 20–50 years, 63.2% were male and 29.0% were admitted to hospital. They found alcohol in 17.8% (15.6% to 20.1%) of drivers. Cannabis was the second most common recreational drug: cannabis metabolites were present in 12.6% (10.7% to 14.7%) of drivers and they detected -9-tetrahydrocannabinol (-9-THC) in 7.3% (5.9% to 9.0%), indicating recent use. Males and drivers aged under 30 years were most likely to use cannabis. The authors detected cocaine in 2.8% (2.0% to 4.0%) of drivers and amphetamines in 1.2% (0.7% to 2.0%). They also found medications including benzodiazepines (4.0% (2.9% to 5.3%)), antidepressants (6.5% (5.2% to 8.1%)) and diphenhydramine (4.7% (3.5% to 6.2%)). Drivers aged over 50 years and those requiring hospital admission were most likely to have used medications. Overall, 40.1% (37.2% to 43.0%) of drivers tested positive for alcohol or at least one impairing drug and 12.7% (10.7% to 14.7%) tested positive for more than one substance. Conclusions: Alcohol, cannabis and a broad range of other impairing drugs are commonly detected in injured drivers. Alcohol is well known to cause crashes, but further research is needed to determine the impact of other drug use, including drug–alcohol and drug–drug combinations, on crash risk. In particular, more work is needed to understand the role of medications in causing crashes to guide driver education programmes and improve public safety.


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  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 10p
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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01599352
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 27 2016 11:41AM