Objective: Measure changes in the prevalence of behavioral factors including police-reported fatigue and alcohol intoxication, as well as self-reported seatbelt use, and assess their effect on hospitalization or death after a motor vehicle crash.
Methods: Probabilistic linkage was used to match drivers in motor vehicle crashes with hospital discharge records for the years 1992-1997. Frequencies of specific behavioral factors were evaluated using the Cochran-Armitage test for trend. Odds ratios and corresponding 95% confidence intervals were calculated using generalized estimating equations (GEEs) with crash and driver characteristics as independent variables and hospitalization or death as the dependent variable.
Results: The analysis database consisted of 450,286 crash driver records, which linked to 4219 (0.9%) hospitalizations or deaths. There was an increasing trend for self-reported seatbelt use among crash-involved drivers from 80.5% in 1992 to 89.3% in 1997 (P<0.001). Police-reported alcohol intoxication among crash-involved drivers showed a decreasing trend from 2.4% in 1992 to 1.5% in 1997 (P<0.001). There was no trend for police-reported fatigue-related crashes. Odds ratios of hospitalization or death for seatbelt use, alcohol involvement, and fatigue were significant and did not fluctuate considerably between 1992 and 1997. Seatbelt use offered a protective effect from hospitalization or death, while alcohol intoxication and fatigue contributed to increased likelihood of hospitalization or death.
Conclusions: These results suggest that while some improvement has been made in decreasing seatbelt non-use and driver alcohol intoxication among crash-involved drivers, no improvement has been made in reducing fatigue-related crashes.