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Excerpts From The Government DUI Report On Drug And Alcohol Crash Risk

"While the extent of use of alcohol by drivers and the risks posed by alcohol use have been well known for many decades, relatively little has been known about the use of other drugs by drivers and the associated risks. However, drug-impaired driving has recently become an issue of increasing public and governmental concern in the United States and in many other countries (Compton et al., 2009; Asbridge et al., 2012; ICADTS, 2007). While it is readily apparent that driving-related skills can be impaired by a wide variety of illegal substances and medications, the nature and scope of the drug-impaired driving problem has been difficult to define (Jones et al., 2003; DuPont et al., 2012; Houwing, 2013)."

"Romano study found no increased risk of crash involvement for those drivers testing positive for THC (the main psychoactive substance in marijuana). However, current limitations in the FARS data set do not allow calculation of unbiased, reliable and valid estimates of the risk of crash involvement that results from drug use."

"The case control crash risk study reported here is the first large-scale study in the United States to include drugs other than alcohol. It was designed to estimate the risk associated with alcohol- and drug-positive driving. Virginia Beach, Virginia, was selected for this study because of the outstanding cooperation of the Virginia Beach Police Department and other local agencies with our stringent research protocol. Another reason for selection was that Virginia Beach is large enough to provide a sufficient number of crashes for meaningful analysis. Data was collected from more than 3,000 crash-involved drivers and 6,000 control drivers (not involved in crashes). Breath alcohol measurements were obtained from a total of 10,221 drivers, oral fluid samples from 9,285 drivers, and blood samples from 1,764 drivers."

"Caution should be exercised in assuming that drug presence implies driver impairment. Drug tests do not necessarily indicate current impairment. Also, in some cases, drug presence can be detected for a period of days or weeks after ingestion."

"This analysis shows that the significant increased risk of crash involvement associated with THC and illegal drugs shown in Table 3 is not found after adjusting for these demographic variables. This finding suggests that these demographic variables may have co-varied with drug use and accounted for most of the increased crash risk. For example, if the THC-positive drivers were predominantly young males, their apparent crash risk may have been related to age and gender rather than use of THC."

"For example, if the THC-positive drivers were predominantly young males, their apparent crash risk may have been related to age and gender rather than use of THC."

"In terms of THC use, the 2007 Roadside Survey found 7.7 percent of weekend nighttime drivers were positive for THC, while, in this study, 9.4 percent of the weekend nighttime control drivers were positive for THC. Both studies showed a similar pattern in which THC use on weekend nights appear to be almost double the daytime use rate. The higher drug prevalence rate at nighttime strongly suggests that recreational use is a significant component of overall drug use."

"This study of crash risk found a statistically significant increase in unadjusted crash risk for drivers who tested positive for use of illegal drugs (1.21 times), and THC specifically (1.25 times). However, analyses incorporating adjustments for age, gender, ethnicity, and alcohol concentration level did not show a significant increase in levels of crash risk associated with the presence of drugs. This finding indicates that these other variables (age, gender ethnicity and alcohol use) were highly correlated with drug use and account for much of the increased risk associated with the use of illegal drugs and with THC."

"This is the first large-scale case control study in the United States to assess the crash risks associated with both drug and alcohol use by drivers. Findings from this study provide valuable insights concerning the current nature of the impaired driving problem. However, considering the complexity of the impaired driving issue, especially concerning use of drugs other than alcohol, and the challenges of obtaining relevant information on this topic, these findings should be viewed in the context of the established body of scientific evidence on the subject."


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