Home > Driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol and medicines. New EMCDDA report reveals risks of substance use behind the wheel.

European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. [EMCDDA] Driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol and medicines. New EMCDDA report reveals risks of substance use behind the wheel. (14 Dec 2012)

URL: http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/news/2012/13

The use of illicit drugs and psychoactive medicines amongst drivers, particularly when combined with alcohol, is described today in a new report from the EU drugs agency(EMCDDA. The ‘state of the art’ review presents the results of the largest research project ever carried out in the EU on Driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol and medicines (the ‘DRUID’ project), which ran between 2006 and 2011.
Around 30 000 people die in traffic accidents in the EU every year, with alcohol still the number one substance endangering lives on Europe’s roads (around one quarter of road deaths). The European Commission funded the DRUID project in order to assess the scale of Europe’s drink- and drug-driving problem and contribute key evidence to road safety policy. It culminated in 50 project reports, running to several thousand pages. The new 50-page EMCDDA review summarises the findings of these reports.

For the first time using comparable data, the project drew a map of the drink- and drug-driving problem across 13 European countries (Figure 2). Over 50 000 car and van drivers were tested in random roadside surveys for traces of 25 substances, including illicit drugs, alcohol and medicines. Alcohol was detected in 3.5 % of drivers, illicit drugs in 1.9 % and medicines in 1.4 %. Mixtures of drugs or medicines were found in 0.39 % of those stopped and combinations of alcohol with drugs or medicines in 0.37 %. A series of project recommendations are made to counter driving impaired by substance use. The roadside surveys revealed cannabis (THC) to be the most frequently detected illicit drug in drivers, followed by cocaine and amphetamines. Meanwhile, benzodiazepines were the most frequently found medicine, with medicinal opioids less common.

Across Europe, the prevalence of alcohol, cocaine, cannabis and combined substance use was found to be higher in southern and western regions. Medicinal opioids were detected more in northern Europe, while substance use was relatively low in most of the eastern region. Alcohol and drugs were found more often in male drivers, while medicines were identified mainly in middle-aged and older female drivers.
Commenting today Wolfgang Götz, EMCDDA Director, said: ‘The DRUID project has given policymakers the best available scientific evidence on levels of drug and alcohol use in drivers and the responses available today to improve road safety in Europe. The EMCDDA is proud to be associated with this project, which has set the standard for assessing drug driving in European countries in order to design more effective solutions in future’.

Also examined in the study were data from nine countries on drivers seriously injured or killed in traffic accidents. In sharp contrast to the results of the roadside tests, between a quarter and a half of drivers involved in crashes in these countries (28 % to 53 %) tested positive for one or more psychoactive substance (Figure 3). Overall, 24.4 % of the injured driver population and 31.7 % of the killed driver population tested positive for alcohol, around 70 % of these being severely intoxicated (blood alcohol content 1.2 g/l). Among those testing positive for alcohol, the highest percentage of seriously injured drivers was found in Belgium and the highest percentage of drivers killed in accidents found in Portugal. Among those testing positive for cannabis, the highest percentage of seriously injured drivers was again found in Belgium and the highest percentage of drivers killed in accidents in Norway. Cocaine use appeared to be more common in southern Europe.

 

Item Type:News
Source:EMCDDA
Date:14 December 2012
Corporate Creators:European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction
EndNote:View
Subjects:B Substances > New (novel) psychoactive substances
A Substance use, abuse, and dependence > Substance related societal (social) problems > Alcohol / drinking and driving
MM-MO Crime and law > Transportation safety laws (driving)
MM-MO Crime and law > Transportation safety laws (driving) > Substance use driving laws
E Concepts in biomedical areas > Substance by legal status > Prescription drug (medicine / medication)
VA Geographic area > Europe
A Substance use, abuse, and dependence > Substance related societal (social) problems > Drug use and driving

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