Examine the Effects of Inhaled Cannabis on Driving Performance

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) oversaw the development of the world's most advanced driving simulator, the National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS), located at the University of Iowa. Previously, the NADS research team and driving simulator were employed to study participants under the influence of alcohol and many Central Nervous System active medications. To date, this simulator has never been utilized for evaluating driving impairment following ingestion of an illicit drug. The mixed results from previous cannabis-dosed driving studies have demonstrated that its effects on driving can be more difficult to detect than the effects of alcohol. The NADS, a more sensitive data collection tool, is capable of detecting the more subtle changes in the driving behavior of cannabis-dosed participants. Concurrent ingestion of cannabis and alcohol is common among impaired drivers; therefore, including this combination enhances the external validity of the study. Thus, the current project requires an advanced human motor vehicle driving simulator with validated performance characteristics and a research team able to conduct studies of individuals under the influence of psychoactive substances such as alcohol and cannabis. National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and NHTSA will work cooperatively to conduct the first of its kind study of the effects of inhaled Cannabis on Driving Performance. In the study, the effects of a placebo, low (approximately 3.5% Tetrahydrocannabinol [THC]), or high dose (approximately 6.5% THC) of inhaled cannabinoids paired with a placebo or low dose (0.05g/dL) of alcohol on driving performance, decision-making, psychomotor control, risk-taking, and divided attention tasks will be assessed in the NADS facility. The Chemistry and Drug Metabolism (CDM) Section of the National Institute on Drug Abuse's Intramural Research Program has a long and productive program in conducting controlled drug administration studies; evaluating the pharmacodynamic effects of drugs; and evaluating the disposition of drugs and metabolites in multiple biological matrices, including blood and oral fluid. They have been conducting cannabis dosing studies for more than 20 years, including Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) specific brain activity research and the first studies of the cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB-1) cannabinoid receptor antagonism of smoked cannabinoids. These studies are unique in that they combine the pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of drug exposure providing a scientific database for interpreting drug test results in light of ongoing physiological, subjective and behavioral effects.


    • English


    • Status: Active
    • Contract Numbers:


    • Sponsor Organizations:

      National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

      1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
      Washington, D.C.  United States  20590
    • Project Managers:

      Smither, Dereece

    • Performing Organizations:

      Westat, Incorporated

      1650 Research Boulevard
      Rockville, MD  United States  20850
    • Start Date: 20110916
    • Expected Completion Date: 20180930
    • Actual Completion Date: 0
    • USDOT Program: Behavioral Safety Research
    • Subprogram: Drug Impaired Driving

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01490046
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
    • Contract Numbers: DTNH22-11-D-00237
    • Files: RiP
    • Created Date: Aug 17 2013 1:01AM