Academic journal article Alcoholism and Psychiatry Research

Alcohol Intoxication in Drivers in Road Traffic Accidents and Violations

Academic journal article Alcoholism and Psychiatry Research

Alcohol Intoxication in Drivers in Road Traffic Accidents and Violations

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Road traffic injuries have become a global developmental and health issue. The likelihood of accidents in general and accidents with fatal outcomes may depend on a large number of factors. Some among these are the condition of roads, the number of vehicles on the roads, population size, population density, economic situation,1"2 the percentage of young drivers3 in traffic, while some relate to the characteristics of the drivers and the manner of driving. Thus, the researchers found out that the economic growth results in the increase of the number of registered vehicles,1"2 i e. vehicles that are in use and consequently in a larger number of road accidents. With regard to road accidents with fatal outcome, some authors observed their decrease and others increase2 linked to the economic growth. Bener and Crundall4 conclude that the number of accidents with fatal outcome decreases with the growth of the number of vehicle owners. They associate it with the lower number of accidents involving pedestrians besides vehicles, which are more fatal than accidents involving only vehicles. These authors associate the reduction of accidents with fatal outcome with the growth of gross domestic product. The number of accidents with fatal outcome is also dependent on the quality of health care. Thus, the number of these accidents increases as the ratio of the number of people per doctor and the number of people per hospital bed rises.4

The manner and frequency of driving are also important factors that influence the risk of accidents. A somewhat disheartening discovery comes from Nishida5 who found that the more offences and involvement in accidents a person has had, the greater is the likelihood of their involvement in further accidents. The influence of previous experience of accidents on reducing the likelihood of future involvement in them is recorded in older drivers, ages 55-64, only.

Certainly, one of the essential characteristics of the driver affecting the probability of traffic accidents is alcohol intoxication while driving. The number of traffic accidents committed under the influence of alcohol may depend on the preferences of alcohol consumption in the population and its groups, preferences of drunken driving and drinking patterns that may be culturally determined. Skog6 found a positive correlation between the amount of alcohol consumed (measured in litres of pure alcohol per capita) and the number of traffic accidents in central and southern Europe, but not including Northern Europe. The authors explain this by difference in patterns of drinking, drinking preferences to different levels of intoxication and social standards regarding acceptable drinking situations. Propensity to alcohol consumption and drunk driving are subject to socio-economic characteristics of an individual. A Finnish study showed that less educated people with lower income, living alone or divorced are more prone to driving while drunk.7 In addition to socio-economic ones, the prevalence of alcohol consumption and drunk driving may be affected by the following factors: the price of alcoholic drinks, expected legal costs/penalties associated with violations due to drunk driving, legal drinking age, closing hours of facilities allowed to dispense drinks3 etc.

Young drunken drivers are, according to previous studies, a particularly high-risk group for causing traffic accidents. Young drivers under the same concentration of alcohol as adults have a higher risk for accidents involving casualties.8 Lower concentrations of alcohol in youths lead to more negative effects than in adults due to the synergy of driving inexperience, greater tendency toward risk and inexperience with alcohol.9 Young people are more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol and their skills to avoid accidents are more damaged than those of adults with the same alcohol concentrations.9

In this paper, we present the analysis of trends in a time period ( 1999-2012), i. …

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