DriveWise B.C. operations manager Kate Wells and UVic professor Scott MacDonald talk about the dangerous effects of impairment while using the driving simulator. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

WATCH: Booze, weed both have fatal consequences

Video shows how easily impairment affects driving

While many say alcohol impairment is worse than cannabis impairment, researcher Scott MacDonald says both increase the likelihood of fatal crashes when driving, with alcohol still being the most dangerous drug on the road.

New laws came into effect Tuesday allowing police officers to collect a breath sample from any driver that has been lawfully stopped, without requiring the suspicion that the person has been drinking.

Read More: Drunk driving laws take effect across Canada today

However, there needs to be more research around cannabis and driving, said MacDonald, a scientist with UVic’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research who has focused his career on research issues in the field of substance use including impaired driving laws, the role of substance use in injuries, program evaluation, and cannabis and alcohol policy.

Until studies show differently, alcohol is the most dangerous drug on the road, he said.

“There’s been less studies on the effects of cannabis than alcohol because cannabis was illegal,” MacDonald said. “Cannabis impairment is associated with increased likelihood of fatal crashes with a large scale study in Australia.”

The top three driving factors that led to B.C. fatalities in 2017 were speed (70), impairment (70), and distracted driving (73).

Read Also: Drivers can expect compulsory breath tests at road checks come this holiday season

With cannabis legalization comes a new era, some of which MacDonald captures in his new book, Cannabis Crashes: Myths & Truths, a research-based text for students, policy makers, lawyers and experts in the field of substance use and crashes.

“One of the problems is the rate at which THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] passes through the system,” MacDonald said.

In some users it can pass through in a day, while in others, it can hang around for a week, he added. This could – and likely will – create challenges in tracking cannabis impairment if a driver is guilty of causing a motor vehicle incident and tests positive for levels of THC, but is actually sober.

In anticipation of new drunk driving laws and a potential increase in cannabis impairment on the road, MacDonald visited DriveWise B.C.’s Saanich office to experience the driving simulator, without having to ingest either.

The simulator can create a multitude of scenarios and conditions but is also not meant to replace what actually happens on the road, said Kate Wells, operations manager for DriveWise B.C.

Rather, it is to create scenarios so that drivers new and old can learn how to prepare themselves in case they do encounter those situations, she said.

Wearing adapted ski goggles that intentionally blur your vision and depth perception, Wells began driving the machine while MacDonald talked about what impairment symptoms lead to crashes. Mostly weaving, slower reaction times and fatigue, including falling asleep at the wheel, all from high blood alcohol concentrations.

– With files from Keri Coles

reporter@saanichnews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Oak Bay High choir director named B.C.’s most outstanding music educator

Choir director joined by Oak Bay High students at annual conference

Skeena combines Roy Henry Vickers’ vibrant expression with robust oral history

Vickers’ and Budd’s ninth collaboration sells out of local book store, Amazon

UPDATED: Missing twins from Saanich found

Jackie Wilson and Valerie Nolin, 54, were last seen Friday afternoon at Tuscany Village

Three VicPD officers honoured with award of valour from Lieutenant Governor

The officers were among 114 BC law enforcement member recognized for bravery and dedication

Greater Victoria 2019 holiday craft fair roundup

Get a jump on your holiday shopping

Province argues in B.C. Supreme Court for smudging in schools, says it relates to curriculum

Hearing concludes in case regarding indigenous cultural practice in Vancouver Island classroom

Mosaic Forest Management announces forestry shutdown

Thousands of forestry workers in Coastal B.C. will be affected by ‘curtailment’

Appeal dismissed for B.C. man who assaulted woman in ‘thoroughly modern’ fight over phone

‘Both were seeking evidence of cheating by the other,’ says B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo

University of Victoria threatens any athletes who speak about rowing coach probe

Barney Williams has been accused of harassment and abuse

B.C.’s largest catholic archdiocese names 9 clergymen in sex abuse report; probes ongoing

Vancouver Archdioces presides over 443,000 parishoners in B.C.

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you plan on making any purchases on Black Friday?

We’ve all seen the images. Shoppers rioting outside of a store in… Continue reading

Most Read