Results from a French study published Wednesday indicate drivers under the influence of alcohol are decidedly more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident than marijuana users.
The recent PLOS One study found motorists in France under the influence of marijuana increase their probability of causing a fatal car accident by 1.65 times – while “drivers under the influence of alcohol are 17.8 times more likely to be responsible for a fatal accident.”
The study examined the specific correlation between fatal car accidents and driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana. Additionally, the researchers examined the role amphetamines, cocaine, and opiates played in France’s traffic fatalities.
For the study, Jean-Louis Martin analyzed fatal car accidents occurring in Metropolitan France during 2011 and compared them to a similar study conducted between 2001 and 2003. By scrutinizing the toxicology of 4,059 deceased drivers for “300 characteristics,” the study assessed the tests for “positivity and potential confirmation through blood analysis.”
“The proportion of persons driving under the influence of alcohol is estimated at 2.1% (95% CI: 1.4–2.8) and under the influence of cannabis at 3.4% (2.9%-3.9%). Drivers under the influence of alcohol are 17.8 times (12.1–26.1) more likely to be responsible for a fatal accident, and the proportion of fatal accidents which would be prevented if no drivers ever exceeded the legal limit for alcohol is estimated at 27.7% (26.0%-29.4%). Drivers under the influence of cannabis multiply their risk of being responsible for causing a fatal accident by 1.65 (1.16–2.34), and the proportion of fatal accidents which would be prevented if no drivers ever drove under the influence of cannabis is estimated at 4.2% (3.7%-4.8%).”
Statistically significant, the French research coincides with a 2015 report prepared by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Per the NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, their cited research indicated “the increased risk of crash involvement for drivers using marijuana was 1.83 times that of drug-free drivers.”
The French study concluded, “Alcohol remains the main problem in France.” While the study discovered the overall number of traffic fatalities declined during the researched period, it also notes “that one in two drivers considered to be under the influence of cannabis was also under the influence of alcohol.”
Be safe, drive sober.
Photo courtesy of Kevin Schraer