Drugged Driving more Common than Drink Driving

Driving under influence of cannabis more common and riskier than drink driving

New research from the University of Otago, Christchurch supports current initiatives to introduce drug driving regulations in New Zealand.

The latest paper from the long running Christchurch Health and Development study led by Professor David Fergusson, clearly shows that for young adults there is a greater risk of driving under the influence of cannabis than alcohol, and the results are more harmful.

“We’re quite surprised by these results as we expected to find that drink driving is more risky than driving under the influence of cannabis,” says Professor Fergusson.

In this research, a group of 936 drivers aged 25 were asked about their frequency of driving under the influence of cannabis or alcohol. The results show that driving under the influence of cannabis is far more commonly reported than driving under the influence of alcohol.

Those questioned reported driving under the influence of cannabis on an average of nine occasions between the ages of 21 and 25. The average rate for drink driving was 3.62 times.

In addition the research found that while driving under the influence of cannabis there is an increased risk of minor car accidents, while the same is not true for drink driving.

“These results appear to be the consequence of two social trends that have acted in concert to reduce the risks of drink driving while increasing the risks of cannabis driving,” says Professor Fergusson. “There have also been major efforts from publicity, legislation and law enforcement to reduce the rates of drink driving.”

“In contrast, while rates of cannabis use have increased dramatically amongst young adults, there has been little effort to regulate driving under the influence of cannabis”

Professor Fergusson says the net effects are that for the group of young people studied, cannabis posed a greater risk than drink driving.

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