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Driver's alcohol and passenger's death in motor vehicle crashes
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation, Forensic Medicine.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation, Forensic Medicine.
2006 (English)In: Traffic Injury Prevention, ISSN 1538-9588, E-ISSN 1538-957X, Vol. 7, no 3, 219-223 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

OBJECTIVE: Previous studies on alcohol involvement associated with fatal injury in traffic crashes have focused on the drivers, but the passenger's view is not well known. This study (1) analyzes the relationship between passenger's death and alcohol inebriation of the driver and (2) estimates the role of alcohol as the cause of a crash by examining who was at fault, sober, or inebriated.

METHOD: The study includes all motor vehicle passengers (n = 420) who died in crashes in Sweden 1993 through 1996 and were medicolegally autopsied. Autopsy reports from the Departments of Forensic Medicine, including toxicological analyses, and police reports were studied. Presence of alcohol among drivers was based on blood and breath tests.

RESULTS: One-fifth of the fatally injured passengers and one-fifth of the tested drivers were under the influence of alcohol. The youngest drivers had the highest prevalence of drunken driving. Drivers at fault were alcohol positive in 21% of these crashes and drivers were not at fault in 2% of these crashes. In 53% of the crashes where both the passenger and driver were alcohol positive, the passenger had a lower alcohol concentration than the driver. Children (<16 years) comprised 15% of the killed passengers. Notably, the children were riding with a driver who was under influence of alcohol in 13% of these crashes. Alcohol involvement was not tested in half of the surviving drivers.

CONCLUSIONS: The data show that 20% of both passengers and drivers were under the influence of alcohol. Increased testing of surviving drivers regarding alcohol and other drugs is recommended.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2006. Vol. 7, no 3, 219-223 p.
Keyword [en]
Accidents; Traffic/*mortality, Adolescent, Adult, Age Distribution, Aged, Aged; 80 and over, Alcohol Drinking/*mortality, Alcoholic Intoxication/*mortality, Breath Tests, Central Nervous System Depressants/*analysis, Child, Child; Preschool, Ethanol/*analysis, Female, Humans, Infant, Infant; Newborn, Male, Middle Aged, Sweden/epidemiology
National Category
Forensic Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-12801DOI: 10.1080/15389580600727846PubMedID: 16990235OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-12801DiVA: diva2:152472
Available from: 2008-01-08 Created: 2008-01-08 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Traffic and drowning incidents with emphasis on the presence of alcohol and drugs
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Traffic and drowning incidents with emphasis on the presence of alcohol and drugs
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Worldwide, fatal traffic injuries and drowning deaths are important problems. The aim of this thesis was to investigate the cirumstances of fatal and non-fatal traffic injuries and drowning deaths in Sweden including analysis of the presence of alcohol and drugs, which are considered to be major risk factors for these events. Data where obtained from the database of National Board of Forensic Medicine.

In the first study, we investigated 420 passenger deaths from 372 crashes during 1993-1996. There were 594 drivers involved. In total, 21% of the drivers at fault were alcohol positive compared to 2% of drivers not at fault (p<0.001) (Paper I). During 2004-2007, crashes involving 56 fatally and 144 non-fatally injured drivers were investigated in a prospective study from Northern Sweden (Paper II). The drivers were alcohol positive in 38% and 21%, respectively. Psychoactive drugs were found in 7% and 13%, respectively. Benzodiazepines, opiates and antidepressants were the most frequent drugs found in drivers. Illict drugs were found 9% and 4% respectively, with tetrahydrocannabinol being the most frequent of these drugs (Paper II).

We investigated 5,125 drowning deaths in Sweden during 1992-2009 (Paper III). The incidence decreased on average by about 2% each year (p<0.001). Unintentional drowning was most common (50%). Alcohol was found in 44% of unintentional, 24% of intentional, and 45% of undetermined drowning deaths. Psychoactive substances were detected in 40% and benzodiazepines were the most common substance. Illicit drugs were detected in 10%. Of all drowning deaths, a significantly higher proportion females commited suicide compared with males (55% vs. 21%, p<0.001). Suicidal drowning deaths (n=129) in Northern Sweden were studied further in detail (Paper IV). of these, 53% had been hospitalized due to a psychiatric diagnosis within five years prior to the suicide. Affective and psychotic disorders were the most common psychiatric diagnoses. Almost one third had performed a previous suicide attempt. One fourth had committed suicide after less than one week of discharge from hospital. Alochol was found in 16% and psychoactive drugs in 62% of these cases, respectively. 

In conclusion, alcohol and psychoactive drugs are commonly detected among injured drivers and drowning victims, and probably play a role in these events. Most of the individuals that tested positive for alcohol and high blood concentrations, indicating alochol dependence or abuse. This association warrants futher attention when planning future prevention. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2014. 62 p.
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1662
Keyword
Traffic incidents, drivers, passenger, drowning, alochol, pharmaceuptical, illicit drugs, suicidal drowning, mental disorder
National Category
Forensic Science
Research subject
Forensic Medicine
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-91526 (URN)978-91-7601-095-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-09-19, Hörsal D, Unod T9, Norrlands Universitetssjukhus, Umeå, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-08-29 Created: 2014-08-11 Last updated: 2014-09-26Bibliographically approved

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