Driving in a different country can pose challenges, usually in the form of different traffic laws and driving customs. While North American drivers certainly enjoy a large number of similarities in their driving and traffic laws, there is some concern about the safety of driving in a country not your own.
A recent study conducted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research in conjunction with Columbia University has found that there is a significantly lower rate of alcohol-related fatal accidents in the United States among those who have a Canadian driver's license.
The researchers found that there was alcohol involved in fatal crashes for 27 percent of accidents for U.S. and Mexican drivers, but the rate fell to 11 percent when the driver was Canadian. In addition, 23 percent of U.S. and Mexican drivers compared with 8 percent of Canadians revealed that alcohol impairment was involved in fatal crashes.
The study's findings are not consistent with other research showing that foreign drivers tend to be at a greater risk of traffic accidents than those who drive in the country on a regular basis. The findings are published in the October edition of Injury Prevention.
The researchers were especially surprised at the similarity found between U.S. and Mexican drivers, given the differences in culture. In addition, the researchers had expected that, given the similarity in the rates of alcohol-related fatal accidents in the U.S. and Canada, the rates between those two countries would be more similar. The researchers found that when combined, the Canadian and Mexican drivers represent over 70 percent of all foreign drivers in fatal crashes in the U.S.
The researchers believe that the low rate of Canadian involvement in alcohol-related fatal accidents may be connected to the reason behind Canadian travel. Canadians are likely to be in the U.S. on vacation or business, which may be situations in which alcohol is less likely to be involved. In addition, Canadians had the lowest rate of crashes at night, the time when alcohol is most likely to be involved. The researchers said that it is also likely that Canadians are less likely to choose to operate a vehicle immediately after drinking.
The researchers obtained data for the study by utilizing the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which is a database maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The study was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.