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Prevalence of alcohol and other drugs and the concentrations in blood of drivers killed in road traffic crashes in Sweden
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Drug Research. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
National Board for Forensic Medicine, Linkoping, Sweden .
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Drug Research. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
2014 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, ISSN 1403-4948, E-ISSN 1651-1905, Vol. 42, no 2, 177-183 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Drunk or drug-impaired drivers represent a major public health and societal problem worldwide. Because over 95% of drivers killed on the roads in Sweden are autopsied, reliable information is available about the use of alcohol and/or other drug before the crash. Methods: This retrospective 4-year study (2008-2011) used a forensic toxicology database (TOXBASE) to evaluate the concentrations of alcohol and other drugs in blood samples from drivers killed in road-traffic crashes. Results: The mean age of all victims (N = 895) was 48 +/- 20 years, and the majority were male (86%). In 504 drivers (56%), the results of toxicological analysis were negative and these victims were older; mean age (+/- SD) 47 +/- 20 years, than alcohol positive cases (35 +/- 14 years) and illicit drug users (34 +/- 15 years). In 21% of fatalities, blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) was above the statutory limit for driving (0.2 g/L), although the median BAC was appreciably higher (1.72 g/L). Illicit drugs (mainly amphetamine and cannabis) were identified in similar to 7% of victims, either alone (2.5%), together with alcohol (1.8%) or a prescription drug (2%). The psychoactive prescription drugs identified were mainly benzodiazepines, z-hypnotics and tramadol, which were found in the blood of 7.6% of crash victims. Conclusions: The high median BAC in fatally-injured drivers speaks strongly towards alcohol-induced impairment as being responsible for the crash. Compared with alcohol, the prevalence of illicit and psychoactive prescription drugs was fairly low despite a dramatic increase in the number of drug-impaired drivers arrested by the police after a zero-tolerance law was introduced in 1999.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
SAGE Publications (UK and US) , 2014. Vol. 42, no 2, 177-183 p.
Keyword [en]
Alcohol; driving; drugs; impairment; traffic fatalities
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-105752DOI: 10.1177/1403494813510792ISI: 000331371600009OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-105752DiVA: diva2:710325
Available from: 2014-04-07 Created: 2014-04-04 Last updated: 2017-12-05

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Ahlner, JohanJones, A Wayne

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