Drugs, alcohol and road accidents in Tasmania

Med J Aust. 1987 Jul 6;147(1):6-11. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.1987.tb133226.x.


Drug analyses were performed on 200 blood samples that were taken for alcohol analysis from road users in Tasmania. Alcohol at a concentration of above 0.5 g was found in 75% of the samples, and other drugs were found in 17% of the samples. Cannabis was the most prevalent of these other drugs: it was detected in 6% of road users; benzodiazepine drugs were detected in 5% of road users; and barbiturate drugs were detected in 2% of road users. Alcohol was found in 50% and other drugs were found in 25%, of drivers, riders and pedestrians who were involved in road accidents that were serious enough to cause death or injury. In addition to alcohol, other drugs may be making a significant contribution to road accidents because all the drugs that were identified are capable of impairing psychomotor performance. Of particular concern is the prevalence of cannabis, which is an illegal drug, and barbiturate drugs, which are now prescribed rarely. A well-controlled study is required to quantitate the contribution of drugs other than alcohol to road accidents. In the meantime, drivers should be warned that drugs that depress the central nervous system can be expected to impair driving ability and to increase the risk of an accident.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic*
  • Age Factors
  • Alcohol Drinking*
  • Australia
  • Cannabinoids / blood
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Ethanol / blood
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Mortality
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Sex Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / blood


  • Cannabinoids
  • Ethanol