Study objective: To investigate the association of alcohol use and night driving with traumatic snowmobile fatalities.
Design: Case-control study.
Participants: Traumatic deaths occurring while driving a snowmobile during the years 1985 to 1990 were reviewed. A sample of 1989 to 1990 fatal motor vehicle driver and motorcycle driver accidents were used as controls. Records were obtained from the provincial coroner.
Results: One hundred eight snowmobile fatalities, 432 motor vehicle fatalities, and 108 motorcycle fatalities were included. Young men (mean age, 30 years) made up the snowmobile fatalities population, with weekend fatalities predominating (67%). Snowmobile fatalities were associated with use during times of suboptimal lighting (crude odds ratio, 1.9 [95% confidence interval, 1.1-3.3]; P < .01). Blood alcohol concentration exceeded provincial limits in 64% of cases. When snowmobile fatalities were adjusted for occurrence during suboptimal lighting conditions, only alcohol use was associated independently with fatal outcome (adjusted odds ratio, 4.3 [95% confidence interval, 2.5-7.0]; P < .0001).
Conclusion: Drivers in snowmobile fatalities are associated with an approximately fourfold greater use of alcohol than are age- and sex-matched drivers in automobile and motorcycle fatalities. Preventive strategies should be targeted at reducing the use of alcohol while snowmobile driving in young men.