Road Safety

Strategic Leader: Jeffrey R Brubacher

To conduct relevant road safety research and policy evaluation, and to work closely with policy makers to foster evidence-based road safety best practices.

Long Term Goal
To help make British Columbia’s roads the safest in the world.

Short Term Goals

To determine the proportion of injured drivers who used psychotropic drugs before a crash.

To determine whether drivers who used cannabis are more likely to have caused the crash.

To work effectively with policy makers to ensure that they are aware of the most recent evidence around the problem of drug and alcohol impaired driving in BC.

To determine the prevalence and associated crash risk of other driver-related risk factors (such as distraction, fatigue, medical problems) and to disseminate these findings to policy makers.

To work with road safety policy makers to evaluate road safety policy changes and disseminate our findings and recommendations.

Key Partners & Stakeholders

RoadSafetyBC (Formerly Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles) – Our team meets regularly with the BC superintendent of motor vehicles and other members of RoadSafetyBC. RoadSafetyBC is extremely interested in our research.
Office of the Provincial Health Officer – Our team provided input into the drug and alcohol impaired driving section of the upcoming PHO report on traffic safety in BC.
BC Coroner’s Office: Dr. Brubacher provided input into a “teen driver death panel” conducted by the BC coroner’s office.

Other Stakeholders: ICBC, RCMP, Vancouver City Police, Health Authorities, Ministry of Health Services.
Doctor Brubacher is chair of the Research and Data committee which is one of the working committees that supports the newly formed BC Road Safety Steering Committee. The goal of the R&D committee is to improve the quality of and access to road safety data and to increase the capacity for road safety research in BC.

Work to Date
It is estimated that the cost of impaired driving injuries and deaths is 12 billion dollars per year in Canada. In our studies on alcohol impaired driving we found that impaired drivers treated in hospital after a crash are seldom convicted. Unfortunately, we also found that, these drivers have not “learned their lesson” and often engage in impaired driving again after being released from hospital.

Research and advocacy work directly influenced the new more stringent “drunk driving” laws which are estimated to have reduced deaths related to impaired driving by 51%. We conducted an in-depth evaluation of these new laws and confirmed that they were associated with marked reductions in deaths, hospital admissions, and ambulance dispatches for road trauma. Our findings are quoted in an ongoing court challenge of these laws.

We also developed and validated the “Canadian Culpability Scoring Tool”, a tool for determining responsibility for the crash based on data in the police report. We used this tool to study the role of cell phones in causing crashes. This tool will also be used for several studies of drug impaired driving. We are near completion of a five-year study of the role of cannabis in causing motor vehicle crashes and have recruited over two thousand injured drivers. This study, funded by CIHR ($910,000), is now conducted in eight BC trauma centres and will provide the best possible evidence of the role played by cannabis in causing motor vehicle crashes. We have received CIHR funding ($526,000) for a study investigating the crash risk associated with use of prescription medications.