Background: Acute cannabis use is associated with a higher risk of motor vehicle crashes (MVC). This study aimed to determine if self-reported past-year cannabis use is associated with MVC or traffic stops among older drivers.
Methods: This cross-sectional analysis used data from a multi-center study enrolling active drivers aged 65-79 years. Data regarding cannabis use, MVC, and traffic stops (i.e., being pulled over by police, whether ticketed or not) within the previous 12 months were collected through participant interviews. Log-binomial regression models examined associations of past-year cannabis use with MVC and traffic stops, adjusting for site and sociodemographic and mental health characteristics.
Results: Of 2,095 participating older drivers, 186 (8.88%) used cannabis in the past year but only 10 (<0.5%) within an hour before driving in the last 30 days; 11.41% reported an MVC and 9.45% reported a traffic stop. Past-year cannabis users had a higher prevalence of MVC (adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR] = 1.38; 95%CI: 0.96, 2.00; p = 0.086) and traffic stops (aPR = 1.58; 1.06, 2.35; p = 0.024).
Conclusions: Past-year cannabis use was associated with increased traffic stops, which are correlated modestly with increased MVC in past studies and may indicate impaired driving performance. We did not find a statistically significant association of past-year cannabis use with MVC, which may indicate limited sustained effects on driving performance from periodic use among older adults, who report rarely driving immediately after use.
Keywords: Older drivers; cannabis; driving; motor vehicle crashes; traffic stops.