Objective: The objective of this study was to study the use of alcohol and drugs among the general driving population in the southeastern part of Norway and to compare the findings with the results from a similar roadside survey in 2008–2009.
Methods: A roadside survey of drivers of cars, vans, motorcycles, and mopeds was performed from April 2016 to April 2017 in collaboration with the Mobile Police Service. Oral fluid was collected using the Quantisal device and analyzed for alcohol, illicit drugs, and psychoactive medicinal drugs. Age, sex, time, and geographical region were recorded.
Results: Of the 5,556 drivers who were asked to participate in the study, 518 drivers (9.3%) declined to participate, and 4 samples contained insufficient volume of oral fluid to be analyzed; thus, 5,034 drivers were included. Fifteen drivers (0.3%) suspected by the police for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs refused to participate in the study, so the alcohol and drug findings represent minimum values. The weighted prevalence of alcohol concentrations above the legal limit of 0.2 g/L was 0.2%, which is similar to the finding in the 2008–2009 survey. The weighted prevalences of medicinal drugs and illicit drugs were 3.0 and 1.7%, respectively; those numbers included more drugs than the 2008–2009 survey and are therefore not comparable. The most prevalent illicit and medicinal drugs were tetrahydrocannabinol (1.3%) and zopiclone (1.4%). The prevalences of benzodiazepines and amphetamines were significantly lower than detected in the 2008–2009 survey. Only one sample tested positive for a new psychoactive substance.
Conclusions: The proportion of samples that tested positive for alcohol had not changed since 2008–2009, and the proportions that tested positive for benzodiazepines and amphetamines were lower. There are several possible reasons for the reduction: Implementation of legal limits for 28 drugs in 2012–2016, increased use of drug recognition tests, implementation of drug screening instruments, and automatic number plate recognition by the police since 2010; more focused enforcement of the driving under the influence (DUI) law; better information provided to drivers; and changes in drug prescriptions.