Pubdate: Thu, 11 Dec 2008
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Ian Austin, Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Cannabis and Driving)
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


More Nighttime Drivers Were Stoned Than Drunk

Drunk driving is down, but drugged driving is higher, says a report by
the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.

The 2008 B.C. Roadside Survey found that while fewer people were
driving after drinking, more drivers tested positive for drugs.

A study of 1,500 drivers found that 10 per cent of nighttime drivers
tested showed evidence of drug use, while eight per cent tested
positive for alcohol.

A full 17 per cent tested positive for drugs, alcohol or

"The good news is that drinking and driving appeared to be on the
decline in the samples we collected," said Doug Beirness, senior
research and policy analyst at the centre and lead researcher for the

"But the messages about drugs and driving don't seem to be getting

Beirness said a 2004 study showed that drugs, often combined with
alcohol, were detected in up to 30 per cent of fatally injured drivers.

"People still don't think the use of drugs impairs their ability to
drive a car," said Beirness.

"Young people between 16 and 18 did not show any evidence of alcohol
use, but a small proportion did test positive for drug use, indicating
they may not know or understand the risks associated with drugs and

"This provides a strong argument for greater investment in education
as well as increased countermeasures."

Andy Murie, CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers Canada, said drivers,
especially impressionable young drivers, need to know that driving
drugged is dangerous.

"The message is, 'If you're going to get behind the wheel, no
drinking, no drugs, and we'll save a lot of lives,'" said Murie.

"Our mission statement says 'impaired driving,' whether it's drinking,
whether it's drugs, whether it's both."

Murie said he expects public opinion to change as drivers become more
aware of new federal legislation that gives police the power to
conduct roadside tests on drug and alcohol impairment, including the
collection of a sample of blood, oral fluid, and/or urine to test for
the presence of drugs. "Once you see more people on the road who can
test for drugs, that will resonate with people," said Murie.
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