Medicinal Drugs and Traffic Collisions: Evidence, Issues and Challenges
Although most industrialized countries have been more interested in alcohol and illicit drugs and driving, in recent years attention has begun to focus on the potential impairing properties of medicinal drugs. Descriptive epidemiological studies examining the prevalence of drugs and alcohol have found medicinal drugs, such as benzodiazipines, to be commonly used among crashed drivers. For example, benzodiazapines were found in 12.4% of injured drivers in a Canadian study and was the second most common drug detected and were also the second most common drug found in an Australian study. Despite this high prevalence, which begs the need for case-control studies and continued experimental and laboratory research, only Europe seems to be conducting the bulk of the research on this topic. This is particularly curious, given the ageing population who are more likely to be taking medicinal drugs than alcohol or illicit drugs, and the trends in western countries to de-hospitalization, day-surgeries, and community-based living of frail elderly. This paper will provide a brief synopsis of the epidemiological and experimental research on medicinal drugs and impairment. This will be followed by a discussion of the issues and challenges in conducting research on medicinal drugs and driving.