Damaged gray car with three firefighters wearing yellow jackets in the background.

UC Davis Health awarded grant to study role of drugs and other substances in car accidents

$1.3 million grant will fund research on presence of potentially intoxicating substances in patients injured in serious crashes


UC Davis Health has received a $1.32 million grant to better understand the role intoxicating substances and medications may play in roadway crashes.

The grant is funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It will finance research at UC Davis Medical Center and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center on the presence of potentially intoxicating substances in patients injured in serious crashes.

“Too often we see the negative effects intoxicating substances and medications have on roadway safety,” said James Chenoweth, director of toxicology research and associate professor of Emergency Medicine, who is the lead investigator for the study. “Our hope is this research will prevent unnecessary tragedies and help the Office of Traffic Safety implement proven countermeasures for drug and alcohol impaired driving.”

A 2022 study by NHTSA found that more than half the people injured or killed in traffic crashes had one or more drugs, or alcohol, in their system.

Also, just over 54% of injured drivers had drugs or alcohol in their systems, with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an active ingredient in marijuana, the most prevalent, followed by alcohol, the NHTSA study found.

Data collected from the study will be used to aid the Office of Traffic Safety in its goal of decreasing roadway injuries and deaths in California.

“This grant highlights the state of California’s commitment to public safety research and the role substance use plays in motor vehicle crashes,” Chenoweth added.

The grant program runs through September 2024.

  • UC Davis Health Magazine

    View the latest issue of UC Davis Health, a publication of the UC Davis School of Medicine.