Background Studies have shown that cannabis impairs driving and it associated with an increase in the risk of traffic road accidents involvement. Spain has implemented roadside drug testing, with later laboratory confirmation on positive cases.
Objective To assess the presence and concentration of cannabis, as well as their combined use with other drugs (laboratory confirmation after the on-road screening) in Spanish drivers between 2011–2016.
Methods Spanish roadside mandatory alcohol and drug testing using saliva are carried out by our Traffic Police using Dräger Alcotest® 6810 device, and Dräger DrugTest® 5000, DrugWipe®, or Alere™ DDS®2 Mobile Test System. Confirmation analysis and quantification of cannabis using chromatographic techniques were performed for all positive cases (n=65 244 of 1 79 645 testing carried out). Statistical analysis was carried out using SPSS version 23.0.
Findings Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was confirmed in 79.5% of all positive cases (n=51869). Combined use with other substances was observed in the 50.8%, mainly with cocaine (43.7%) and amphetamine-like substances (15.5%). Concentration values were important across the covered period (median 113.0 ng/mL). THC positive cases were mainly males (96.3%) and aged 20–40 years old.
Conclusions Cannabis is frequently detected substance among Spanish drivers.
Policy implications The figures found evidence the need for intervention in this area. The continuity of roadside drug testing is considered important factor for deterring driving under the influence of substances.
This work was supported by the Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Redes Temáticas de Investigación Cooperativa, Red de Trastornos Adictivos [grant number RD16/0017/0006], co-funded by FEDER funds of the European Union: a way to build Europe.
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