One for the road: Dutch drivers prefer cannabis to alcohol

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Dutch motorists are more likely to get behind the wheel after taking cannabis than drink and drive.

A study by the Institute for Road Safety Research (SWOV) found 1.67% of drivers were under the influence of cannabis, 25% more than the European average.

But drink-driving was half as common as in the rest of the EU, with 0.7% of Dutch motorists found to be over the limit compared to a European average of 1.5%.

Drivers are also more likely than elsewhere in Europe to be under the influence of amphetamines, which 19 in 1000 were found to have taken.

SWOV said the figures showed drink-driving was still the biggest problem on the country’s roads.

Alcohol is estimated to be a factor in one-fifth of road fatalities and the sole cause of one in six deaths.

The institute worked with similiar organisations on a European research project known as Druid, which compared driving habits in 13 countries.

Northern Europeans are most likely to drive while on prescription medicines, such as tranquilisers, while those in the south show a higher than average usage of alcohol and illegal drugs.

Although cannabis on its own constitutes a mild risk compared to alcohol, when used in combination with alcohol or other substances the risk increases dramatically, SWOV found.

A spokesman said the research formed a sound basis for new laws which are due to be introduced against driving under the influence of drugs.

Source: SWOV (press release): Nederlandse automobilist rijdt minder vaak met te veel alcohol dan gemiddelde EU-bestuurder
Photo by Joris Leermakers

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