Drug-impaired driving is becoming a much more common issue on Canada's streets, and the number of people driving after taking drugs is greater than those who drive after drinking. Despite public perception that drugs may be less harmful to drivers, evidence is growing that drug impairment may contribute to collisions, as discussed in the report, Drug Use by Fatally Injured Drivers in Canada (2000–2008).
CCSA is involved in extensive research that aims to monitor the extent of drug use by drivers and identify the scope of the problem to better inform dialogue, programs and policy related to road safety. Continuing to collaborate with governments and other organizations to gather more data can ultimately inform and guide jurisdictions in deterring drug-impaired drivers and support efforts towards prevention, enforcement, treatment and rehabilitation. Educating Canadians on the associated risks to them and other road users is an important step in decreasing the number of individuals who drive while under the influence of drugs.
Events, Facts and ResearchDriving while impaired by alcohol or drugs remains the most prominent factor contributing to serious road crashes in Canada. Although significant progress has been made over the past three decades, impaired drivers continue to present a significant risk to the safety of all road users. See Impaired Driving in Canada (2013).
International Drugs and Driving Symposium, July 17–18, 2011
Although research on drugs and driving is limited, CCSA is working closely with U.S. White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction to bring together the latest research and policy initiatives to address the issue. For the first time ever, CCSA hosted a targeted international forum on drugs and driving in July 2011. This event served as a call to action and an opportunity to further the objectives of the drugs and driving resolution presented to the 54th session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs from March 21–25, 2011.
Drugs and Driving Facts:
Alcohol and Drug Use Among Drivers: Roadside Surveys 2008 & 2010
- Drug use among drivers is comparable to that of alcohol use.
- According to the 2010 Alcohol and Drug Use Among Drivers: British Columbia Roadside Survey, 9.9% of drivers had been drinking, 7.2% of drivers tested positive for drug use, and cannabis and cocaine were the drugs most frequently detected in drivers (Beirness & Beasley, 2010)
- From 2000 to 2007, some 12,978 drivers died in vehicle crashes on public roadways in Canada. The extent of drug use among fatally injured drivers (at 33%)
- The most common psychoactive substances found among fatally injured drivers were cannabis, central nervous system stimulants, and narcotic analgesics.
- More than 20% of young drivers aged 16–18 reported driving after using cannabis. (Beirness & Davis, 2006)
- It is estimated that drivers make 15.6 million trips per year after using cannabis. (CADUMS, 2009)
The prevalence of drug use by drivers rivals that of alcohol and may be a contributing factor to deaths in road crashes. CCSA's most recent research includes a second drugs-and-driving roadside survey.
The results from the two British Columbia Roadside Surveys (2008 & 2010) shed light on the magnitude of the problem and provide a basis for guiding the development of prevention efforts and helping enforcement agencies deal effectively with drug-impaired driving behaviour.
To read the full reports click on the thumbnails below:
Fatally Injured Drivers Report
A Comparison of Drug- and Alcohol-Involved Motor Vehicle Driver Fatalities conducted in 2010 complements and extends previous work on drug-impaired driving. This unique project merged data from two distinct sources: the National Fatality Database (records of persons killed in motor vehicle crashes) and the National Collision Database (records of motor vehicle crashes). The purposes of this study were to determine the extent to which psychoactive drugs are involved in driver fatalities, and 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.
To read the Report in Short or the full report click on the thumbnails below:
Drugs Evaluation Classification
CCSA is working to ensure the scientific rigour of the Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC)
program in Canada. One project examined the accuracy with which police officers trained as Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) can identify the category of drug(s) ingested by persons believed to be impaired by a drug. Understanding the patterns of drug-impaired driving is pivotal to the success of enforcement programs such as DRE.