Danger of drugs in traffic underestimated

Almost one out of five drivers that gets heavily injured in a car accident was at that moment under influence of a combination of drugs or drugs and alcohol. This was concluded from research done by the (Dutch) Organization for Scientific Research on Road Safety (SWOV) from 2000 to 2004.

Risks


A person who is under influence of alcohol when getting in the drivers seat has 17 times more chance to get injured then sober drivers have. A combination of drugs and alcohol leads to 35 times more chance. A heavy drinker that has also used drugs has 180 more risk on injuries then a sober driver has.

Drugs


Young men between 18 and 25 years-old were the largest group of drug users. Over one out of six had used narcotics ranging from cannabis, cocaine to XTC.
Unfortunately, the news stories that were published after this research do not consider that only small amounts of people were under influence of drugs, among the 3799 researched individuals that got involved in an accident. Cannabis was used most often among these persons. But test results of increased risks after using drugs were generalized by the media. We would be happy if research would point out what different risks or dangers are connected with several drugs and medication.

Saliva test


The SWOV organization aims for a prevention campaign, and, a saliva test. Drivers under influence should be penalized heavily. Dutch minister Peijs was shocked by these accident-risks. She wants to introduce the saliva test as soon as it is reliable.

European research


In 2006 a new large-scale European research will be started to gain more insight in the toleration limits of drugs, sleeping medication and sedatives. Then legal limits for these substances can be determined, such as the permitted maximum promillage of alcohol. The police by then must have reliable and efficient tools to trace these substances, so says the SWOV.