Drug use found among 10% of tested Manitoban drivers: MPI

The presence of alcohol in drivers’ systems was much less prevalent

One in 10 drivers in Manitoba who participated in a voluntary roadside survey tested positive for drugs, according to a survey produced for Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI).

The survey, which was conducted last fall, found that 124 of 1,230 drivers tested positive for some type of drug. More than half (53%) of the drivers with drugs in their systems tested positive for cannabis while 31% tested positive for cocaine. Some drivers also tested positive for opioids, benzodiazepines and amphetamines/methamphetamines but to a much lesser degree. Almost one-quarter (22%) of these drivers tested positive for more than one drug.

MPI suggests that this data is concerning considering the prevalence of drug use within fatally injured drivers. In 2013, 95% of Manitobans who lost their lives while at the wheel of a car were tested for the presence of drugs in their system and 40% tested positive.

The drivers who participated in the survey were also tested for the presence of alcohol, with 2.4% producing a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that was greater than zero. When that data was weighted for population and traffic flow, the proportion of Manitoba drivers who tested a positive BAC was 0.6%.

“The low incidence of alcohol presence suggests that most Manitoba drivers are making the responsible decision to not drive after drinking,” said Ward Keith, vice-president of loss prevention and communications at MPI.

“At 10%, the prevalence of drugs in the tested drivers is significantly more common and extremely concerning.” he added. “While the survey does not necessarily provide an indication of driving impairment, prevalence alone provides reason for concern and lends support for targeted drug driving awareness and other road safety interventions.”

Drug use was most prevalent in drivers between the ages of 35 and 44, with 14% of those drivers testing positive while 12% of drivers aged 19 to 24 also tested positive as did 4% of those between the ages of 16 and 18.

Prairie Research Associates conducted the survey for MPI in five communities in September 2016. The data was collected from 1,230 drivers who agreed to provide voluntary breath and saliva samples, which were immediately destroyed after testing. The research agency used established national protocols developed by Transport Canada and the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators to ensure the validity of the survey results.

Copyright © 2017 Transcontinental Media G.P.
Transcontinental Media G.P.