Pedestrian intoxication and fatal traffic accident injury patterns

Prehosp Disaster Med. 1995 Jan-Mar;10(1):30-5. doi: 10.1017/s1049023x00041637.


Introduction: Sixteen percent of all motor-vehicle fatalities are pedestrian, and accidents involving pedestrians are associated with the highest morbidity and mortality rates. Classic pedestrian injury patterns have been described. However, it has been suggested that the pattern may differ if the pedestrian is intoxicated. The role of pedestrian intoxication on motor-vehicle accident injury patterns has not been well-delineated.

Hypothesis: Intoxicated pedestrian traffic victims have an injury pattern that is more serious and more rapidly fatal than is the pattern for nondrinking victims.

Methods: Autopsies of 223 consecutive pedestrian victims were reviewed and grouped according to the presence of alcohol in the blood: Group I, Negative (n = 165); Group II, Positive (n = 58). Gender, age, anatomic injuries, survival time, time of day, and year also were examined.

Results: Results indicated that there were more males in Group II (79%) than in Group I (64%); younger victims, younger than 40 years old, in Group II (70%) than in Group I (34%); fewer victims older than 60 years old in Group II (8%) than in Group I (38%). Group II sustained more frequent and more severe injuries--two times the frequency of the cervical spine, liver, upper and lower extremity, pelvic and rib fractures and thoracolumbar spine injuries; three times more aortic injuries; five times more heart injuries. Death occurred within 24 hours in 95% of those in Group II and in 67% of those in Group I. Accidents occurred from 1500h to 2300h in 67% of Group II and in 53% of Group I victims.

Conclusion: Intoxicated pedestrian accident victims are predominantly young men, struck between 1500h and 0700h; they have an injury pattern that is two to five times more serious than is the pattern for the sober victims.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / mortality*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / blood
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / complications*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Seasons
  • Sex Distribution
  • Time Factors
  • Walking*