WINNIPEG — New figures from Manitoba Public Insurance show one in 10 drivers in the province is under the influence of drugs while behind the wheel.
The findings, released Wednesday from the Manitoba Drug and Alcohol Roadside Survey, also concluded 53 percent of drivers had drugs in their systems.
“Survey results are a clear indication that despite significant education and enforcement efforts, many Manitoba drivers continue to operate motor vehicles while impaired by drugs or alcohol,” said Crown Services Minister Ron Schuler.
“Our government has committed to making legislative changes in response to the legalization of recreational use of marijuana and these results will help guide not only messaging related to the dangers of drug and alcohol use while driving, they will also provide a baseline from which we will measure the effects of both legislative changes and future enforcement efforts.”
Of those voluntarily tested, 31 percent of drivers had cocaine in their systems, 12 percent for opioids, and two percent each for benzodiazepines and amphetamines/methamphetamines. Twenty two percent of drivers tested positive for more than one drug.
On the more positive side, 2.4 percent of drivers produced a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) greater than nil.
Prairie Research Associates conducted that survey on behalf of MPI in September 2016, and conducted anonymous, voluntary roadside surveys to measure drug and alcohol use while driving. Of the 1,706 Manitoba drivers surveyed in Winnipeg, Brandon, Steinbach, Portage la Prairie, and Thompson, 1,230 drivers (72 percent) agreed to participate in providing voluntary breath and saliva samples, which were immediately destroyed after testing.
• 28 of 1,230 drivers tested provided a breath sample with positive blood alcohol content.
• Drug use was noted in 124 drivers across all survey communities and among both males and females.
• Drug use was most prevalent in the 35-44 age group (14 per cent of drivers tested in that age group), although young drivers also tested positive for drug use (4 per cent of drivers aged 16-18 and 12 per cent of drivers aged 19-24).
• Results indicate that the most prevalent drug for both sexes was cannabis, representing 63 per cent of positive drug tests for men and 49 per cent of positive drug tests for women.