December 14, 2007

Drug impairment is on the rise says BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation

Burnaby, British Columbia – The British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA) Traffic Safety Foundation is reminding drivers not to “crash the party” this holiday season by driving while impaired, including drug impairment. While alcohol is still the leading cause of impaired driving offenses, drug impairment is on the rise.

A report released last year by the Road Safety Monitor found that an estimated 520,000 Canadians drove after using marijuana or hashish in the previous year. According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, young males are driving under the influence of cannabis as often as, or more often, than they drive under the influence of alcohol.

“Most drivers have fortunately changed their attitudes toward drinking and driving, but there appears to be a lack of education toward drugs and driving,” said Allan Lamb, executive director for the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation. “Impaired drivers kill two people every week on B.C. roads, and I suspect many of these drivers are impaired by a drug other than alcohol.”

While tests show that alcohol consumption results in more aggressive driving behaviours such as speeding, drivers who use cannabis are more likely to drive slowly, are less alert, have problems with time and distance perception, and exhibit latent braking tendencies. Prescription tranquilizers and narcotics can also have adverse effects on coordination and reaction time if not taken accordingly.

Driving is impaired when the ability to do so is affected by any substance or condition that changes the mood or perception of reality of the driver, including alcohol, illicit or prescription drugs, fatigue or stress.

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