Blood samples of all patients (269) involved in a traffic accident and admitted to the Emergency Room of the University Hospital of Trauma Surgery in Innsbruck were analysed for alcohol and benzodiazepines. The large majority were drivers (55%) followed by passengers (19.7%), cyclists (12.6%) and pedestrians (12.3%). Alcohol was obviously the most commonly found drug in all groups (drivers: 36.9%; passengers: 15.1%; cyclists: 29.4%; pedestrians: 18.2%), with a mean BAC (blood alcohol concentration) high above the legal limit at the time of the study in Austria of 0.8 g/l (drivers: 1.49 +/- 54 g/l; passengers: 1.52 +/- 71 g/l; cyclists: 1.72 +/- 51 g/l; pedestrians: 1.67 +/- 25 g/l). The percentage of alcohol users was highest in drivers. Concerning BAC levels no significant differences were found between the groups. The most commonly detected benzodiazepine was diazepam. Benzodiazepine consumption (drivers: 8.1%; passengers: 5.7%; cyclists: 8.8%; pedestrians: 3%) as well as plasma levels (drivers: 68.7 +/- 62.6 microg/l; passengers: 61.0 +/- 69.3 microg/l; cyclists: 135.7 +/- 118.3 microg/l; pedestrians: 18 microg/l) were nearly equal in all groups. Concerning alcohol or benzodiazepine use, females showed lower frequencies of both alcohol and benzodiazepine positive blood samples. The frequency of alcohol use was higher in patients <or= 60 years of age.
Copyright 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.