Drug and Driving: A Compendium of Research Studies

Annotated Sources (cont'd)

United States

61. Jones, R.K.; Shinar, D.; and Walsh, J.M. (2003)

State of Knowledge of Drug-Impaired Driving. DOT HS 809 642. Washington, DC.: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


This is a reasonably comprehensive review of drugs and driving divided into four main areas: detection and measurement; experimental research; epidemiologic research; and countermeasures

Type of study, population(s) and proportion tested

Literature review

Drugs examined (threshold values for detection)
  • Narcotics
  • CNS depressants
  • CNS stimulants
  • Cannabis
  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
Findings (including statistical methods)

Point-of-contact testing devices of promise but further development is necessary

  • Experimental research
  • Drugs with high potential for impairment of driving-related performance:
  • Narcotics
  • Long-life benzodiazepines (therapeutic doses)
  • Short-life benzodiazepines (high doses)
  • Barbiturates
  • First generation H1 antihistamines
  • Some antidepressants
Drugs with low potential for impairment
  • CNS stimulants
  • Second generation antihistamines
  • Most other antidepressants
  • Cannabis has a moderate potential for impairment
  • Epidemiologic research
    Drug use less common among drivers than alcohol
  • Cannabis the most frequently used drug by drivers
  • Cannabis found among an average of 14% of driver fatalities (7 to 37%)
  • Only cannabis and benzodiazepines found in more than 1% of not-crash involved drivers
  • The role of drugs as a causal factor in crashes is not well understood

62. Lillis, R. P., Good, R. G., Kwong, T., Gajary, E., and States, J. D. (1999)

Incidence of drug use among drivers treated in emergency departments. In: 43rd Annual Proceedings of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine. September 20-21, 1999. Barcelona, Spain. Rochester University, NY: AAAM.


Study of drivers injured in crashes

Type of study, population(s) and proportion tested

Drivers brought to ER by ambulance from crash (n=888)

Time period not mentioned

Drugs examined (threshold values for detection)
  • Ethanol
  • Common drugs of abuse (cocaine, marijuana, and prescription/over-the-counter drugs)
Method of testing and medium used

Blood samples

Other dependent variables


Findings (including statistical methods)

33% positive for at least one substance

  • Ethanol (13%)
  • Cannabis (6%)
  • Benzodiazepine (4%)
  • Cocaine or cocaine metabolite (3 – 4%)

23% positive for one substance and 8% positive for two

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