Drug and Driving: A Compendium of Research Studies

Annotated Sources (cont'd)

Europe

7. Christopherson, A. S. (2002)

The role of medicines in traffic accidents in the European countries. In D. R. Mayhew and C. Dussault (Eds.) Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety. Quebec: Société de l’Assurance Automobile du Québec.

Overview

This review focuses on medicinal drug use in Europe in both accidents involved and apprehended drivers

Type of study, population(s) and proportion tested

Literature review

Drugs examined (threshold values for detection)
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Opiates
  • Barbiturates
  • Cannabis
  • Amphetamines
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Antihistamines
Findings (including statistical methods)

Accident involved drivers:
Benzodiazepines seem to have the most negative effect

Prevalence of benzodiazepines appears to be higher in these drivers (7-14%), though prevalence in general population not well known

Benzodiazepines most frequently detected drug after alcohol

OR’s for traffic accidents within four weeks after the first prescription for benzodiazepines ranged from 2.5-3.9

Apprehended drivers:
One or more benzodiazepines were found in 50% of cases in 2001

Doses normally above recommended therapeutic dose and often combined with illegal or other psychoactive drugs

Flunitrazepam and diazepam most frequently detected (30 and 25%, respectively)

Majority of drivers apprehended are young men (20 – 35 years old)

Recommendations:
Need for:

  • Epidemiological surveys on accident drivers
  • Larger roadside drug screening studies
  • Standardization of study protocols (cut-off levels, screening procedures, etc.)

8. de Gier, J.J. (1998)

Road Traffic and Illicit Drugs. European Commission, Cooperation Group to Combat Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking of Drugs. Strasbourg, France: Pompidou Group.

9. de Geir, J. J. (2000)

[Also: de Geir, J. J. (2000). Review of European investigations of illicit drug prevalence in road traffic. In: Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety. May 22-26, 2000. Stockholm, Sweden. International Council on Alcohol, Drugs & Traffic Safety.]

Overview

Four large epidemiological studies on the prevalence of drugs, from Italy, Germany, Belgium, and Norway, are reviewed

Type of study, population(s) and proportion tested

Literature review

Drugs examined (threshold values for detection)
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Opiates
  • Cannabis
  • Amphetamines
  • Cocaine
  • Barbiturates
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Alcohol
Findings (including statistical methods)
Prevalence of drugs and road traffic
  General Population DUI Suspected Collision Involved
Cannabis 0.6% 26 5.5-6%
Opiates 0,7% 8 3.5-7.5%
Amphetamines 0.08% 21 2.7-3.0%
Cocaine 0.01% .04% 0.5-0.7%
Benzodiazepines 3.6% 31% 8.5%
Barbiturates 0.5% not detected 1.3-3.4%
Tricyclic Antidepressants not detected not detected 1.5%
Drugs & alcohol * 30% 25% 17.5-27%
Multiple drug use * 95% not presented 17.5-20%

* drug positive cases

Benzodiazepines are generally higher than illicit drugs

Comparisons between studies difficult because of different methodologies, etc.

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