Doped drivers are a danger on the road: Cannabis consumption up to 3 hours before getting behind wheel doubles risk of serious accident

As per researchers from Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada, those who smoke up within three hours of starting a vehicle almost ‘double the risk of a serious crash’. Recent analysis was carried out on those that tested positive for cannabis use through blood tests, or mentioned that were stoned in the previous 3 hours.

Vehicles put to the test included vans, cars, sport utility vehicles (SUV’s), buses, scooters, motorcycles, light or heavy trucks, snowmobiles, and all terrain vehicles (ATV’s). As per the review, ‘The results also accord with recent data for collisions that point to the increasing presence of drugs other than alcohol (especially cannabis and depressants of the central nervous system) in injured and fatally injured drivers.’

Driver’s who have smoked cannabis, have a higher likelihood of being ‘involved in a collision with another vehicle’. Concerns revolving around drugs on road safety are high with UK reporting 1 million cannabis users on the 16 -24 year age group, attributing for half the number of smokers in the 16 – 59 year age group.

The influence of smoking up and driving and the risk of minor crashes remains unclear, but it could be a risk factor in minor vehicle collisions. In UK, laws pertaining to drug-driving laws are in for changes with the possibility of roadside ‘drugalysers’.

Other drug driving research suggests smoking pot affects one’s mental abilities and motor tasks necessary for safe driving, and this heightens the risk a car crash. The recent tests are concentrated on effects deduced solely from cannabis users separating this study from others wherein the effect of alcohol and other substances were used for study.

Back in 2007, a Scotland roadside survey carried out on 537 drivers found that 15% drivers in the 17-39 age group had smoked cannabis ‘within 12 hours of driving’. In 2008, 71,449 people were convicted of drink-driving in England and Wales. In comparison, 1,644 people were convicted of drug-driving.

Mike Penning, Road safety minister had this to say. ‘Drug-driving is a menace which is why we are going to introduce a new drug-driving offence and drug-screening equipment to make it easier for the police to test for the presence of drugs and crack down on this irresponsible minority.’ ‘We are also collecting information from coroners on the presence of drugs in drivers at autopsy to give us a better picture of the part drugs play in accidents on the roads.’ ‘Britain has some of the safest roads in the world but we are not complacent and I am determined to crack down on those who recklessly risk the lives of others.’

Chief executive of DrugScope, Martin Barnes had this to say. ‘This research paper confirms what the available evidence has suggested for some time: driving while under the influence of drugs such as cannabis can be dangerous.’ ‘We are aware that the Department for Transport is in the process of setting up an expert panel to advise on how legislation could be amended to respond to drug-driving, as the technical aspects of any such change to the law are extremely complex.’ ‘We await the outcome of this important work with interest.’

In India, while the use of cannabis and hashish is oft reported, incidents of drug driving car crashes aren’t that widely covered, with vehicle accident crashes for the most part being attributed to drunk driving.