Fatally Injured Drivers Testing Positive for Marijuana on the Rise

Jan 2, 2018

New results have been published that show the percentage of fatally injured drivers testing positive for marijuana use between 2000 and 2014 has increased (12% to 19%) while fatal injuries sustained by drivers under the influence of alcohol have decreased (35% to 28%). The information, collected and published by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), is based on the foundation’s National Fatality database, which is funded by State Farm® and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The results varied by age, as cannabis was found most commonly among drivers aged 16 to 34, while drivers in the 35 to 64 age category more often tested positive for other drugs, including Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants.

The data also showed that certain times of the day and week were more likely to produce statistics for drivers impaired by cannabis. Robyn Robertson, President & CEO of TIRF, says that “Twenty one percent of drivers dying in weekend crashes tested positive for marijuana versus 17% in weekday crashes [and] in comparison, 46% of fatally injured drivers in weekend crashes tested positive for alcohol versus 26% in weekday crashes.” Alcohol is also most likely to be recorded in drivers at night time, whereas there isn’t such a strong day-to-night contrast when it comes to marijuana.

According to Dr. Woods-Fry, a research associate with TIRF,

“What we see is an increasing percentage of fatally injured drivers in Canada who tested positive for marijuana in recent years whereas the percentage who tested positive for alcohol is decreasing … while the percent is still higher for alcohol today, if current trends continue, marijuana might become more prevalent among fatally injured drivers.”

To spread awareness of cannabis and its effect on drivers, State Farm® and TIRF have developed the Drug Impaired Driving Learning Centre (DIDLC), where up-to-date facts, research, and information will be regularly posted. According to John Bordignon, Media Relations spokesperson for State Farm Canada, “Increased public education is essential to bringing awareness to the issue of cannabis and prescription drug impaired driving, [and] with the impending legalization of recreational marijuana, a resource like the DIDLC is a valuable tool that can help save lives.”

Access the Drug Impaired Driving Learning Centre (DIDLC) here: http://druggeddriving.tirf.ca/

Download Fact Sheet: Marijuana Use Among Drivers in Canada, 2000-2014

About the Traffic Injury Research Foundation:
TIRF is an independent, charitable road safety research institute. Since its inception in 1964, TIRF has become internationally recognized for its accomplishments in identifying the causes of road crashes and developing programs and policies to address them effectively. The mission of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) is to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries.