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Accid Anal Prev. 2017 Nov;108:37-43. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2017.08.003. Epub 2017 Sep 6.

Cannabis and crash responsibility while driving below the alcohol per se legal limit.

Author information

1
PIRE, United States. Electronic address: romano@pire.org.
2
PIRE, United States. Electronic address: voas@pire.org.
3
Research & Development California Department of Motor Vehicles, CA, United States. Electronic address: Bayliss.Camp@dmv.ca.gov.

Abstract

There is a growing interest in how extensively the use of marijuana by drivers relates to crash involvement. While cognitive, lab-based studies are consistent in showing that the use of cannabis impairs driving tasks, epidemiological, field-based studies have been inconclusive regarding whether cannabis use causes an increased risk of accidents. There is ample evidence that the presence of cannabis among drivers with a BAC≥0.08g/dL highly increases the likelihood of a motor vehicle crash. Less clear, however, is the contribution of cannabis to crash risk when drivers have consumed very little or no alcohol. This effort addresses this gap in knowledge. We took advantage of a unique database that merged fatal crashes in the California Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) and the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), which allows for a precise identification of crash responsibility. To account for recent increase in lab testing, we restricted our sample to cover only the years 1993-2009. A total of 4294 drivers were included in the analyses. Descriptive analyses and logistic regressions were run to model the contribution of alcohol and drugs to the likelihood of being responsible in a fatal crash. We found evidence that compared with drivers negative for alcohol and cannabis, the presence of cannabis elevates crash responsibility in fatal crashes among drivers at zero BACs (OR=1.89) and with 0<BAC<0.05g/dL (OR=3.42), suggesting that emphasis on curbing impaired driving should not be solely focused on heavy-drinking drivers. Data limitations however caution about the generalizability of study findings. Special efforts to understand the effect of cannabis on fatal crashes, in particular in the absence of alcohol, are needed.

KEYWORDS:

Alcohol; Cannabis; Crash responsibility; Fatal crashes; Low BAC

PMID:
28841409
DOI:
10.1016/j.aap.2017.08.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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