Drug driving among injecting drug users in Sydney, Australia: prevalence, risk factors and risk perceptions

Addiction. 2004 Feb;99(2):175-85. doi: 10.1046/j.1360-0443.2003.00604.x.


Aims: To examine the prevalence of drug driving, the prevalence of drug-related motor vehicle accidents, risk perceptions of drug driving and factors associated with drug driving among injecting drug users (IDU).

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Setting: Sydney, Australia.

Participants: Three hundred current IDU.

Findings: Ninety-five per cent had driven a vehicle, 74% in the previous 12 months ('current drivers'). Eighty-seven per cent of life-time drivers reported having drug driven, and 88% of current drivers had drug driven in the previous 12 months. There were no significant sex differences in life-time or recent drug driving. The most common drugs used before driving in the preceding year were: cannabis, heroin, amphetamines and cocaine. A third of life-time drivers reported having had a drug driving accident, with males more likely to have done so, and 9% of current drivers reported a drug driving accident in the previous year. The most common drugs that had been used before the most recent drug driving accident were heroin, cannabis and alcohol. Alcohol was perceived to be the most dangerous substance for driving performance and cannabis the least dangerous. Recent drug drivers perceived drug driving to be less dangerous than non-drug drivers. Recent drug drivers had driven more frequently over the preceding 12 months, had significantly higher levels of dependence, higher frequency of drug use, more extensive polydrug use and were more likely to have used and/or injected a drug in a car in the previous 12 months.

Conclusions: Drug driving and drug-related accidents are large-scale public health problems among IDU. These behaviours pose serious risks to IDU themselves and to the broader community.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Automobile Driving / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / epidemiology*