Pubdate: Wed, 21 Oct 1998
Source: Age, The (Australia)
Copyright: 1998 David Syme & Co Ltd 
Author: Penelope Debelle


The largest study ever done linking road accidents with drugs and
alcohol has found drivers with cannabis in their blood were no more at
risk than those who were drug-free.

In fact, the findings by a pharmacology team from the University of
Adelaide and Transport SA showed drivers who had smoked marijuana were
marginally less likely to have an accident than those who were drug-free.

A study spokesman, Dr Jason White, said the difference was not great
enough to be statistically significant but could be explained by
anecdotal evidence that marijuana smokers were more cautious and drove
more slowly because of altered time perception.

"Essentially it is the same as if there was no drug," Dr White

"If there is any improvement (in driving) I don't think it is because
of the drug itself but because of what people do because the drug is

The study of 2500 accidents, which matched the blood alcohol levels of
injured drivers with details from police reports, has policy
implications for those who argue drug detection should be a new focus
for road safety.

In Victoria, legislation will be introduced into Parliament in the
spring session to create a new offence of driving while impaired by

Dr White said the study showed the importance of concentrating efforts
on alcohol rather than other drugs. "In Victoria particularly there is
a strong move to look at cannabis and the development of roadside
testing," he said.

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Checked-by: Rich O'Grady