, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 363-368
Date: 26 Mar 2013

The influence of alcohol intoxication on the severity of injuries suffered by drivers in road traffic accidents

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Abstract

Purpose

To determine the severity of injuries in drunk and sober drivers in traffic accidents, by using the Injury Severity Score (ISS), as well as the most vulnerable body region of those involved.

Methods

This was an observational case–control study covering a 1-year period of patients treated in the emergency department of the Health Center in Kraljevo, Serbia. Seventy-five patients were identified as drunken drivers [blood alcohol concentration (BAC) >0.03 %] (group of cases), while 70 patients were found to be sober drivers (group of controls). Injuries were categorized by body region according to the ISS.

Results

Half of all drivers (51.7 %) injured in traffic accidents were under the influence of alcohol. Males represented a substantial majority of both groups. In both categories of drivers, the greatest incidence of traffic accidents was in the age group 19–35 years. Injuries of drunken drivers were more frequently present in all body regions except in the areas of limbs with shoulder and pelvic bones. Drivers under the influence of alcohol have a 3.80 times greater risk of suffering deadly injuries in traffic accidents. The average ISS in drunken drivers was higher in comparison to sober drivers (p < 0.05). The greatest ISS was in the drunk group with BAC level over 0.051 % (the ISS range was 15–20). A strong correlation was found between the BAC level and the degree of injury (r = 0.63).

Conclusion

The severity of injuries and, especially, the 3.80 times greater risk of suffering deadly injuries in traffic accidents for drunken drivers obliges us to pay attention to prevention strategies.