In 1996 TRL was commissioned by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) to conduct a new study to look at the current incidence of alcohol and drugs in road accident fatalities. The report describes this study and its conclusions. Between 1985 and 1987 the Transport Research Laboratory carried out a study to measure the incidence of drugs in fatal road accident casualties. This showed that the incidence of medicinal drugs (5.5%) and drugs of abuse (3%) was relatively low in comparison to alcohol, which was found in 35% of cases. Recent evidence, however, has suggested that drug taking in the general population has increased considerably since 1987, but there was little evidence on whether this increase has been reflected in the driving community. The present study was completed in June 2000. The results from 1184 cases show that illicit drug taking (mainly cannabis) has increased by a factor of six since the earlier study. Over the same period, the incidence of medicinal drugs and alcohol has remained very similar. Overall, drug taking has increased by a factor of three. The possible reasons behind these increases and the implications for road safety are considered. (A)

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