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BMJ. 2005 Dec 10;331(7529):1371. Epub 2005 Dec 1.

Cannabis intoxication and fatal road crashes in France: population based case-control study.

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French National Institute for Transport and Safety Research (INRETS), Epidemiological Research and Surveillance Unit in Transport, Occupation and Environment (UMRESTTE), 25 avenue Fran├žois Mitterrand, F-69675 Bron Cedex.

Erratum in

  • BMJ. 2006 Jun 3;332(7553):1298.



To evaluate the relative risk of being responsible for a fatal crash while driving under the influence of cannabis, the prevalence of such drivers within the driving population, and the corresponding share of fatal crashes.


Population based case-control study.


10 748 drivers, with known drug and alcohol concentrations, who were involved in fatal crashes in France from October 2001 to September 2003.


The cases were the 6766 drivers considered at fault in their crash; the controls were 3006 drivers selected from the 3982 other drivers. Positive detection of cannabis was defined as a blood concentration of Delta9tetrahydrocannabinol of over 1 ng/ml. The prevalence of positive drivers in the driving population was estimated by standardising controls on drivers not at fault who were involved in crashes resulting in slight injuries.


681 drivers were positive for cannabis (cases 8.8%, controls 2.8%), including 285 with an illegal blood alcohol concentration (> or = 0.5 g/l). Positive cannabis detection was associated with increased risk of responsibility (odds ratio 3.32, 95% confidence interval 2.63 to 4.18). A significant dose effect was identified; the odds ratio increased from 2.18 (1.22 to 3.89) if 0 < Delta9tetrahydrocannabinol < 1 ng/ml to 4.72 (3.04 to 7.33) if Delta9tetrahydrocannabinol > or = 5 ng/ml. The effect of cannabis remains significant after adjustment for different cofactors, including alcohol, with which no statistical interaction was observed. The prevalence of cannabis (2.9%) estimated for the driving population is similar to that for alcohol (2.7%). At least 2.5% (1.5% to 3.5%) of fatal crashes were estimated as being attributable to cannabis, compared with 28.6% for alcohol (26.8% to 30.5%).


Driving under the influence of cannabis increases the risk of involvement in a crash. However, in France its share in fatal crashes is significantly lower than that associated with positive blood alcohol concentration.

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