The risks of alcohol, drugs and medicine on road safety

Alcohol, drug and medicine related road accidents are unfortunately a daily occurrence. In Europe, around 25% of all road deaths are related to the consumption of alcohol, and there is still no reliable estimate of how many crashes are drug related. 
In a survey that asked Europeans about their driving in the last 30 years, 21% of drivers admitted to have driven under the influence of alcohol, and 5% to have driven within 1 hour of taking drugs that wasn’t medication.
While the crash risk associated with illegal drugs or medicines depends on the type, the greatest risk of illegal drugs was found with amphetamines, multiple drug use, and combined alcohol-drug use. In fact, the crash risk for drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.5 g/L is estimated to be about 1.4 times higher than that of a sober driver. At 1.0 g/L, the risk is nearly 5 times higher, and at 1.5 g/L around 20 times higher. 
When it comes to medicine consumption, the crash risk was found to increase significantly when drivers were under the influence of barbiturates (used for treating headaches, insomnia and seizures), benzodiazepines (used to relieve anxiety and insomnia), anti-depressants and opiates (used to treat pain or sleeping problems).
The excessive use of alcohol and/or drugs often takes place during (unplanned) social situations with peer pressure. These social circumstances, along with the feeling of invulnerability and the accessibility of the alcohol and drugs, influence people’s behaviour.
Member States of the European Commission have various countermeasures to fight against this such as active police enforcement, provision of alternative means of transport, awareness campaigns, rehabilitation courses, alcohol interlocks and in-vehicle technology.
Learn more about these findings and read the Road Safety Thematic Report – Alcohol, drugs and medicine where the European Road Safety Observatory goes through the problem and it’s immediate effects, the rules and legislations in place, and the most prominent countermeasures. Read the full report here.