Severity of alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes in British Columbia: case – control study
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The objective of the present study was to compare the injury severity and vehicle damage severity rates of alcohol-related crashes with rates of non-alcohol-related crashes in British Columbia (BC). Injury severity rates and vehicle damage severity rates were taken from 2002 Insurance Corporation of British Columbia traffic collision data. The data were computed in order to compare the differences in injury severity and vehicle damage severity rates of alcohol-related vs. non-alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes. Case - control methods were used in this study to analyse the risk of alcohol-related crashes compared to non-alcohol-related crashes in BC. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% CI were calculated to estimate relative risks. In the case - control analysis, the risk of fatal collision was increased for those drinking and driving compared with those driving sober (OR 4.70; 95% CI 3.15 - 7.01). Risk of injury collision was increased for those drinking and driving compared with those driving sober (OR 1.32; 95% CI 1.19 - 1.37). Importantly, the risk of vehicle damage severity was increased for those drinking and driving compared with those driving sober (write-off vehicle OR 4.24; 95% CI 3.70 - 4.86, severely damaged vehicles OR 1.98; 95% CI 1.77 - 2.21). The study reinforces existing literature to suggest that current evidence is sufficient to show an increased risk of injury and fatality to drivers and occupants in alcohol-related crashes. This paper not only emphasizes this well-known relationship, but also such consequences as increased vehicle damage severity. The connection between drinking and severity of motor vehicle crashes is popularly believed and has now received substantial scientific support. There is strong justification for injury prevention experts and policy-makers to step up motor vehicle crash injury prevention advocacy by implementing evidence-based policies to reduce rates of alcohol-impaired driving in the province of BC. Most unintentional injuries in BC are related to motor vehicle crashes. Significant improvements can be made in these statistics by: increasing the use of occupant protection (safety belt and child restraint seats); reducing alcohol-related injuries through multiple strategies including corrections in the physical environment, extensive enforcement of drinking and driving laws and health promotion/education.
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