Pubdate: Thu, 16 Mar 2017
Source: Winnipeg Sun (CN MB)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: David Larkins
Page: 6


Too many people getting behind wheel with drugs in their system

As federal legalization of marijuana seems more and more like an
inevitability, a new poll commissioned by Manitoba Public Insurance
shows 10% of Manitobans drive with drugs in their system.

The roadside survey was conducted in September 2016 in five Manitoba
communities, including Winnipeg, and found 10% of drivers who
voluntarily participated tested positive for drugs, more than half of
those testing positive for cannabis.

Of the 1,230 drivers who participated, 124 tested positive for a drug,
with 53% of those positive for cannabis and 31% for cocaine.

"The fact that one in 10 drivers recorded the presence of drugs in
their system ... I think gives significant reason for concern about
the extent to which people are not understanding the dangers of
driving with drugs in their system," MPI vice-president of
communications Ward Keith said.

The same survey found the presence of alcohol in only .6% of drivers,
Keith said, an indication that many drivers aren't seeing the "risks
and consequences are identical to driving while alcohol impaired."

Keith acknowledged that part of the challenge in the future will be
determining what the measuring point is for drivers to be considered
too impaired by drugs to drive.

"What this survey is telling us is that there's many drivers out there
that do not understand the extent to which consuming drugs can impair
their ability to drive," he said.

Pending federal legislation to legalize marijuana, Keith said, makes
drugged driving "an area of growing concern."

In the breakdown of other drugs found in the survey, 12% of drivers
had opioids in their system, while benzodiazepines and
methamphetamines accounted for 2% each.
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