Unsafe driving behaviors and hospitalization

Mo Med. 1994 Apr;91(4):172-5.


The medical costs associated with motor vehicle crashes are difficult to measure. Most attempts have used crash data and cost data that are only indirectly related to each other or have followed patients in a few hospitals or trauma centers. These studies produce localized estimates or rough national estimates of limited use to policy makers. The result has been a dependence on more readily available mortality data, such as the Fatal Accident Reporting System, to guide automotive safety efforts. The limitations of mortality data and the increasing sophistication of medical care data bases have resulted in a strong interest in obtaining crash-linked morbidity data. Hence, in 1993, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the Missouri Department of Health and six other applicants grants to link automotive crash records to statewide ambulance trip, outpatient care, hospitalization and mortality records. By identifying an individual across multiple data sets, states would be able to determine directly the relationship of driver behaviors and crash characteristics to hospitalization rates and other medical outcomes. Examination of hospital pay source information would expose the toll of automotive crashes on public tax dollars. Having recently completed the record linkage phase of this project, Missouri Department of Health staff are beginning to analyze the impact of automotive crashes on health care costs in Missouri. In this report, three unsafe driving behaviors, failure to use a safety device (seatbelts and motorcycle helmets), driving under the influence of alcohol, and speeding, are related to the risk of hospitalization or death, hospital costs, and expected pay source.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / economics*
  • Hospitalization / economics*
  • Humans
  • Missouri
  • Risk-Taking*