Drug impaired driving: Evaluating the threat to traffic safety

Principal Investigator: 
University: 
University of British Columbia
Faculty: 
Medicine
Department: 
Emergency Medicine
Position: 
Assistant Professor
Award Type: 

Motor vehicle crashes cause 15,000 serious injuries and over 2,000 deaths in Canada annually. The contribution of drug-impaired driving to these tragedies is unknown, but suspected to be significant. This lack of knowledge hinders the development of effective traffic safety policies to prevent drug-impaired driving.

The research of Dr. Jeffrey Brubacher aims to prevent injuries and fatalities resulting from motor vehicle crashes. His research program consists of three inter-related themes:

  1. Cannabis and motor vehicle crashes. This five- year study will examine 3,000 injured drivers from five BC trauma centres to determine whether there was recent marijuana use before their crashes and whether or not the driver caused the crash. The study will provide important information about the role played by marijuana in causing car crashes.
  2. Prescription medications and motor vehicle crashes. This project will involve combining BC prescription data with BC driver records, including traffic accident reports, to determine whether or not drivers are more likely to be involved in a crash when they are taking prescription medications such as sleeping pills or pain medications.
  3. The Injured Driver Platform. This study will provide information on the motor vehicle crash risk associated with recreational drug use. Over an initial three-year period, medical data will be collected and interviews will be conducted with injured drivers at five BC trauma centres, and drivers will then be followed for two years after their original crash to determine how often they are responsible in other accidents or drive while impaired.

This project will help to identify risk factors for impaired driving which may be used to develop targeted interventions to prevent this risky behaviour. Dr. Brubacher's research will contribute to an international effort to understand the role played by prescription medications, marijuana, and other illegal drugs in causing motor vehicle accidents. He will present his findings to government officials so they are better able to develop effective road safety policy and public education campaigns targeting impaired drivers and, by doing so, to improve safety on our roads.

Research Pillar: 
Health Category: 
Host Institution: 
University of British Columbia
Research Location: 
Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute
Year: 
2011