Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Drivers who test positive for drugs have triple the risk of a fatal car crash

26.09.2013
Risk increases 23 times for those positive for both alcohol and drugs

Drugged driving has been a safety issue of increasing public concern in the United States and many other countries but its role in motor vehicle crashes had not been adequately examined. In a new study conducted at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, researchers assessed the association of driver drug use, as well as the combination of drugs and alcohol, with the risk of fatal crash.

They found that drug use is associated with a significantly increased risk of fatal crash involvement, particularly when used in combination with alcohol. The study provides critical data for understanding the joint effect of alcohol and drugs on driving safety.

Data for the study came from two national information systems sources sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: the 2007 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers and the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), a repository of investigation data for all crashes that resulted in at least one fatality within 30 days of the crash and that occurred on a public road. This second data source also contains detailed information about the crash circumstances as well as individuals and vehicles involved in the crash. This is the first study to use both data sources to quantify relative risks of fatal crash involvement associated with different drugs.

Results of the Mailman School study led by Guohua Li, MD, DrPH, professor of Epidemiology and director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention, show that 31.9% of the drivers involved in fatal car crashes (cases) and 13.7% of the drivers interviewed at the roadside survey (controls) tested positive for at least one non-alcohol drug. Overall, drivers testing positive for drugs were three times as likely as those testing negative to be involved in a fatal crash. Among the drugs studied, depressants conferred the highest risk, followed by stimulants, narcotics, and marijuana.

Elevated blood alcohol levels were found in 57.0% of the cases and 8.8% of the controls; and the risk of fatal crash involvement increased exponentially as these levels rose. About one-fifth (20.5%) of the cases tested positive for alcohol and one or more drugs, compared with 2.2% of the controls. Relative to drivers who tested positive for neither alcohol nor drugs, the odds of fatal crash involvement increased by more than 13 times for those who were alcohol-positive but drug-negative, more than two-fold for those who were alcohol-negative but drug-positive, and 23 times for those who were positive for both alcohol and drugs.

While heightened risk of fatal crash involvement associated with driver drug use was comparable across demographic groups and geographic regions, Dr. Li cautions that findings need to be carefully interpreted. First, a positive test indicates that the driver had used the drug detected but does not necessarily mean that the driver was impaired by the drug at the time of crash or survey. Secondly, variations in individual tolerance and pharmacological characteristics of different drugs make it difficult to determine drug impairment. Also, there is no uniformly accepted definition of impairment for different drugs.

"The possible interaction of drugs in combination with alcohol on driving safety has long been a concern," said Dr. Li, who is also professor of Anesthesiology at Columbia. "While alcohol-impaired driving remains the greatest threat to traffic safety, these findings about drugged driving are particularly salient in light of the increases in the availability of prescription stimulants and opioids over the past decade."

The study was funded by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Findings are published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.

About Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health

Founded in 1922, Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health pursues an agenda of research, education, and service to address the critical and complex public health issues affecting New Yorkers, the nation and the world. The Mailman School is the third largest recipient of NIH grants among schools of public health. Its over 450 multi-disciplinary faculty members work in more than 100 countries around the world, addressing such issues as preventing infectious and chronic diseases, environmental health, maternal and child health, health policy, climate change & health, and public health preparedness. It is a leader in public health education with over 1,300 graduate students from more than 40 nations pursuing a variety of master's and doctoral degree programs. The Mailman School is also home to numerous world-renowned research centers including the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP), and the Center for Infection and Immunity. For more information, please visit http://www.mailman.columbia.edu

Stephanie Berger | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.columbia.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Amputees can learn to control a robotic arm with their minds
28.11.2017 | University of Chicago Medical Center

nachricht The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>