Proportion of injured drivers presenting to a tertiary care emergency department who engage in future impaired driving activities.
ABSTRACT We determined the rate of, and predictive factors for, subsequent impaired driving activity (IDA) by injured drivers treated in a Canadian tertiary care emergency department (ED) following a motor vehicle crash (MVC).
We retrospectively identified all drivers injured in a MVC who presented to our tertiary care, urban ED (1999-2003) and had their blood alcohol content (BAC) measured. Injured drivers were categorized by BAC: group 1, BAC = 0; group 2, 0 < BAC < or = 17.3 mM (80 mg/dL, legal limit); and group 3, BAC > 17.3 mM. IDA was defined as any of the following: a conviction for impaired driving; a 24-h or 90-day license suspension for impaired driving; involvement in alcohol-related MVC. Time to IDA following the index event between groups was compared with Kaplan-Meier survival analyses. Effects of covariates on time to IDA were analyzed using Cox proportional hazards models.
During the study period, 1489 injured drivers met study criteria: 1171 in group 1, 51 in group 2, and 267 in group 3. During an average follow-up of 52.4 months, 82 (30.7%) group 3 drivers engaged in subsequent IDA, compared with 80 (6.8%) group 1 drivers (p < 0.0001). Youth, male gender, history of previous IDA, and the number of previous IDA events were all associated with a significant increase in subsequent IDA. A history of IDA was the strongest predictor of future IDA in group 1 (440% increase risk) and in group 3 (80% increased risk). The magnitude of BAC elevation above the legal limit was not predictive of future IDA.
A high portion of injured impaired drivers who present to hospital engage in repeat IDA following discharge. Besides impairment at time of hospital visit, the best predictor of future IDA is a history of IDA prior to the index event.