Alcohol use linked to higher risk for road-traffic injury in Latin America and the Caribbean

Road-traffic injuries (RTIs), which are often fatal, are regrettable consequences of modern transportation. According to the World Health Organization, low- and middle-income countries have road-traffic fatality rates that are double those of high-income countries. It is well established that drinking alcohol increases the risk of a traffic crash. This study examined the role that alcohol plays in the risk of RTIs in 10 countries located in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Researchers analyzed data previously collected on 1,119 (817 males, 302 females) RTI patients arriving at 16 emergency departments (EDs) in Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Guyana, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago between 2001 and 2015. Particular attention was paid to reports of alcohol consumption during the six hours prior to the RTI.

In the countries examined, one of every five injury patients visited an ED as a result of an RTI, and one in every six RTI patients had consumed alcohol during the six hours prior to the accident. The presence of alcohol increased risk among drivers and non-drivers alike. More specifically, the likelihood of an RTI after any drinking was five times higher than not drinking, and the more a person drank the higher the risk. Each drink increased the risk of an RTI by 13 percent. Alcohol use prior to an RTI was responsible for 14 percent of all RTIs, varying from 7 percent for females to 19 percent for passenger injury. The authors recommend measures to reduce alcohol consumption among drivers, passengers and pedestrians, including routine screening and brief interventions in pertinent health services.


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