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CANNABIS DRIVERS ARE ’TWICE FATALITY RISK’

"However, its (cannabis) share in fatal crashes is significantly lower than that associated with alcohol - 2.5 per cent compared with 29% for alcohol."

Drugs were a contributing factor in about 5% of road deaths in 2003.

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- Newshawk: http://www.norml.org.nz
- Pubdate: Sat, 03 Dec 2005
- Source: Press, The (New Zealand)
- Copyright: 2005 The Christchurch Press Company Ltd.
- Contact: editorial at press.co.nz
- Website: http://www.press.co.nz/
- Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/349
- Author: Sean Scanlon

Driving stoned on cannabis doubles the risk of a fatal road crash, a major new study has found.

The New Zealand police, who are pushing for tougher drug-driving controls, say they are not surprised by the French study of 10,748 drivers published in the British Medical Journal yester day.

French researcher Bernard Laumon said all drivers underwent compulsory tests for drugs and alcohol as part of the study, which ran from October 2001 to 2003.

"Driving under the influence of cannabis almost doubles the risk of a fatal road crash," Laumon said.

"The risk of being responsible for a fatal crash increased as the blood concentration of cannabis increased."

The odds for being responsible increased from 1.9 to 3.1, according to cannabis levels.

"However, its (cannabis) share in fatal crashes is significantly lower than that associated with alcohol - 2.5 per cent compared with 29% for alcohol."

Laumon said men were more likely to test positive for cannabis and alcohol, as were younger drivers.

The French study follows New Zealand research this year by police and Environmental Science and Research that showed that up to a third of drivers killed on the roads and later tested had traces of cannabis in their blood.

Inspector John Kelly said police were pushing for a law change that would make it easier to deal with doped-out drivers.

At present police have to prove someone is incapable of driving, which could require a doctor’s report.

Kelly said it was hoped the law could be reworded to say a driver was impaired by drugs - a much easier standard to prove.

British experts had recently trained New Zealand officers in using "divided attention" tests, whereby a person is asked to do two or three tasks at once to determine if they are driving drugged.

Kelly said police were also closely watching Australian attempts to take mouth swabs of suspected drugged drivers for testing.

"We want to ensure the equipment and measures they are trying are up to scratch," he said.

Sergeant John Robinson, of the Canterbury Highway Patrol, said officers stopped drugged drivers regularly enough to be concerned, but alcohol far outweighed these instances.

"People who smoke cannabis tend to stay at home a lot of the time. That’s probably a reflection on society and the people using it," Robinson said.

"Everybody from 15 up seems to be involved in alcohol."

Drugs were a contributing factor in about 5% of road deaths in 2003.

Articoli modificato Saturday 3 December 2005 03:55, Data di pubblicazione Saturday 3 December 2005 03:35

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