Pubdate: Tue, 13 Feb 2018
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2018 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Randy Shore
Page: 6


New Study: Fatal collisions involving young drivers increase by 38 per 
cent after pot-smoking celebrations

The risk of a fatal accident among young drivers spikes by 38 per cent
in the hours after 4/20 celebrations, according to new research from
UBC and the University of Toronto.

The finding suggests that mass marijuana celebrations may not be
entirely without consequences.

John Staples, a professor of medicine and researcher at UBC's Centre
for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences, said people aged 20 and
younger had a much higher risk of a fatal crash on April 20 from 4:20
p.m. until midnight compared to the same period one week before and
one week after.

Governments contemplating policies to deter so-called drugged driving
in the wake of cannabis legalization should pay special attention to
young drivers, he said.

"It was a dramatic effect with that young group," he said. "We know
that younger drivers are more vulnerable because they lack experience
and possibly due to risk-taking behaviour."

B.C. is preparing new regulations in anticipation of the nationwide
legalization of recreational cannabis planned for July 1 and at that
time anyone over the age of 19 will be able to purchase and possess up
to 30 grams of marijuana for recreational use.

Earlier this week, Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said the
provincial government will impose a 90-day driving ban for
drug-impaired drivers. He also promised increased training for police
to recognize impairment and zero tolerance for cannabis for drivers in
the graduated licensing program.

It is not clear how impairment will be defined and whether there is a
reliable test for impairment due to cannabis intoxication.

"It's before the Senate and it's one of the areas I've said where we
have real concern about the equipment, the test that's being used and
when it will be ready," Farnworth told reporters.

Staples and University of Toronto professor Donald Redelmeier examined
25 years of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data on all
fatal traffic crashes in

the United States between 4:20 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. on April 20 and the
same period a week after and before.

The analysis, published in the Journal of the American Medical
Association, revealed a 12 per cent increase in fatal crashes across
all age groups on April 20 after 4:20 p.m.

Recent 4/20 celebrations in major cities have attracted tens of
thousands of revellers since becoming popular in 1991. The
celebrations often feature synchronized mass consumption of cannabis
at exactly 4:20 p.m.

Data that definitively links these fatal crashes to cannabis
intoxication does not exist because testing regimes vary dramatically
between states.

"It's a remarkable number and a pretty straightforward natural
experiment," said Staples. "The simplest explanation is that some
drivers are impaired by cannabis and these drivers contribute to fatal

- - With a file from Derrick Penner.
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