March 11, 2009

Cannabis Use, Dangerous Driving Interrelated

Universite de Montreal researchers analyze marijuana use and other risky behaviors in Accident Analysis and Prevention journal

Thrill-seeking young men are more likely to drive under the influence of cannabis (DUIC) and engage in reckless driving, according to a new Universit© de Montr©al study. As reported in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, men who are sensation-seekers, an average age of 27 and impulsive will consider taking the wheel after consuming cannabis more often than older peers.

"We observed that dangerous driving behaviors are interrelated. Individuals scoring high on impulsivity or sensation-seeking scales demonstrated an elevated risk of driving under the influence of cannabis," says senior author Jacques Bergeron, a professor at the Universit© de Montr©al's Department of Psychology.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate the association between driving under the influence of cannabis and a wide range of dangerous driving behaviors."

Some 83 men were recruited for the study. Participants, aged 17 to 49, were observed in driving simulation tests and questioned about their driving history. Males were selected as a target group, since statistics show that men engage more often in dangerous driving and DUIC compared to women.

Researchers discovered 35 percent of their sample group had been involved in one or more road crashes with material damage in the previous three years. What's more, 30 participants admitted to using cannabis and 80 percent of those users reported at least one incidence of DUIC in the previous 12 months.

"Our study found that men with self-reported DUIC tend to be associated with an increased risk of being involved in a car accident," says lead author Isabelle Richer, a PhD candidate at the Universit© de Montr©al's Department of Psychology.

To dissuade sensation-seekers from DUIC or other dangerous behaviors, Richer and Bergeron recommend that authorities create arousing and unconventional intervention messages that command attention. "On-road risky behaviors tend to be inter-correlated, so interventions should focus on a broad range of dangerous behaviors," stresses Richer.

This study was supported by the Recherche et intervention sur les substances psychoactives-Qu©bec and the Fonds Qu©becois sur la Soci©t© et la Culture.

About the Study: The paper, "Driving under the influence of cannabis: Links with dangerous driving, psychological predictors, and accident involvement," published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, was authored by Isabelle Richer and Jacques Bergeron of the Universit© de Montr©al.


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