Psychoactive substances and road traffic safety in Szczecin, Poland between 2016 and 2020

Barbara Potocka-Banaś, Urszula Semeniuk, Tomasz Janus, Krzysztof Borowiak


Introduction: Road traffic safety depends on the road surface, weather, and the driver’s behaviour on the road. Safety primarily depends on the behaviour of drivers, who often violate the law and, for example, exceed the speed limit, use a mobile phone while driving, or run red lights at intersections. Another problem for road safety is drivers operating vehicles under the influence of alcohol and/or other psychoactive substances such as amphetamine and its analogues, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ-9-THC), cocaine, opioids and benzodiazepines. The study aimed to analyze data obtained from blood tests performer on drivers stopped for roadside checks by police officers in Szczecin in the years 2016–2020 (West Pomerania province).

Materials and methods: Secured blood samples were analyzed for the type and concentration of specific psychoactive substances which were initially detected in drivers during roadside checks. Quantitative blood tests were carried out using liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC/MS).

Results: In 2016–2020, 1,607 drivers were tested at the Department of Clinical and Forensic Toxicology of the Pomeranian Medical University in Szczecin. Records indicated that each year, the rate of road users who were under the influence of a psychoactive substance as defined by law was increasing. The analysis revealed that the most frequently detected substance was amphetamine in 2017 (61%), 2018 (48%) and 2020 (48%), and Δ-9-THC in 2016 and 2019 (48%).

Conclusions: In the analyzed period, in contrast to the numer of drivers testing positive for amphetamine and Δ-9-THC, the rate of road users testing positive for opiates, cocaine or benzodiazepines  in blood was relatively low.


road traffic safety; psychoactive substances; drug driving

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Copyright (c) 2021 Barbara Potocka-Banaś, Urszula Semeniuk, Tomasz Janus, Krzysztof Borowiak

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