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Drugs and driving

picture of a steering wheel

Most recent statistics reveal that more than 30 000 people die on European roads each year, while a further 1.7 million are injured. No less than a quarter of these deaths are estimated to be caused by drink-driving. And although alcohol is by far the most prevalent and well-documented psychoactive substance affecting drivers, concerns have been mounting about increasing reports of road deaths linked to illicit or medicinal drugs.

Public awareness of the role of psychoactive substances other than alcohol in road traffic accidents has increased, due to attention given to this issue by the media, and policymakers are increasingly called upon to respond to this problem.

Below you can watch a video report on the risks of substance use behind the wheel.

EMCDDA publications and online resources

Drug use, impaired driving and traffic accidents, second edition (Insights, EMCDDA, 2014)

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This literature review provides a comprehensive report on the relationship between drug use, impaired driving and traffic accidents. It describes methodological issues, presents the results of prevalence surveys among drivers, provides an overview of findings from major international epidemiological surveys, and gathers evidence from experimental and field studies of the relationship between drug use, driving impairment and traffic accidents. This updates the EMCDDA Insight of 2008 with results from the DRUID project and others.

Driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol and medicines in Europe - findings from the DRUID project (Thematic paper, EMCDDA, 2012)

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This Thematic paper presents the key findings of the European Union’s research project on Driving Under the Influence of Drugs, Alcohol and Medicines, known as the DRUID project. The project looked at experimental studies, epidemiological studies, enforcement, classification of medicines, driver rehabilitation, withdrawal of driving licence, and dissemination and guidelines. Over 5 years of work across 18 countries, the project has produced some 50 reports, each one contributing key evidence to road safety policy. The thematic paper therefore aims to summarise the findings of one of the biggest research projects ever carried out in the EU on drugs and driving

Responding to drug driving in Europe (Drugs in focus 20, EMCDDA, 2009)

Responding to drug driving in Europe cover

Many of the accidents and deaths that occur on European roads are caused by drivers whose performance is impaired by a psychoactive substance. Alcohol alone is estimated to account for up to 10 000 road deaths a year in the European Union, one quarter of all road deaths. No comparable figures are available for road accidents related to illicit drugs and psychoactive medicines, though these have been receiving increasing attention over the past decade.

Drug use, impaired driving and traffic accidents (Insights series, EMCDDA, 2008)

Cannabis use and driving (A cannabis reader: global issues and local experiences, Monograph series 8, Vol. 2 Chapter 9, EMCDDA, 2008)

Drugs and driving (Selected issues, EMCDDA, 2007)

Legal approaches to drugs and driving (ELDD topic overviews, EMCDDA, online)

Literature review on the relation between drug use, impaired driving and traffic accidents (EMCDDA, 1999)

EU flag

EU projects on drugs and driving

DRUID (completed 2011)

DRUID (Driving under the Influence of Drugs, Alcohol and Medicines) focuses on the issue of drink-driving and attempts to find answers to questions concerning the use of drugs or medicines that affect people's ability to drive safely. Its aim is to gain new insights to the real degree of impairment caused by psychoactive drugs and their actual impact on road safety.

ROSITA (completed 2005)

ROSITA (Roadside Testing Assessment) was set up to identify the requirements for roadside testing equipment and to make an internal comparative assessment of existing equipment or prototypes. The assessment addresses roadside testing, result validity, equipment reliability, usability and usage costs.

Immortal (completed 2002)

Immortal was a research programme concerning the accident risk associated with different forms of driver impairment and the identification of 'tolerance levels' applied to licensing assessment and roadside impairment testing (including drug screening).

Page last updated: Monday, 08 September 2014