Alcohol intake and severity of injuries on highways in Mexico: a comparative analysis

Addiction. 1998 Oct;93(10):1543-51. doi: 10.1046/j.1360-0443.1998.9310154311.x.


Aims: To analyze the association between alcohol intake and the severity of injuries sustained from traffic accidents on a Mexican highway.

Design: An observational unit evaluated drivers involved in auto accidents.

Setting: Mexico-Cuernavaca Highway, Mexico. A 60 km-long road with many altitude variations and sharp curves.

Participants: Three hundred and eighty-six drivers involved in traffic accidents between March and September, 1994.

Measurements: A questionnaire was applied to the driver, an occupant or witness at the site of the accident to collect information about the driver, vehicle characteristics, type of accident, day-night occurrence, road section (Mexico-Cuernavaca or Cuernavaca-Mexico) and weather conditions. A physical examination was carried out to determine the presence and severity of injuries.

Findings: There were 177 injured people, including 12 deaths, with rates of 67.5 injuries and 4.58 deaths per 10,000 km driven. Variables associated with alcohol intake (p < 0.05) included: severity of injuries, non-use of seat belt, vehicle size and occurrence at night. Risk factors for severe injuries were: alcohol intake (adjusted OR 6.1 CI 95% 1.6-24.0); non-use of seat belt (OR 4.9 CI 2.2-10.8), age < 25 years (OR 3.6 CI 1.0-12.7), age > 54 years (OR 6.0 CI 1.4-25.0), speed > 90 km/h (OR 2.6 CI 1.1-6.3) and occurrence at night (OR 2.6 CI 1.3-5.3).

Conclusions: Alcohol intake is a major risk factor for severe injuries from highway traffic accidents. Its association with other risk factors such as non-use of seat belt and excessive speed suggests the importance of designing interventions aimed at reducing alcohol intake among automobile drivers.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Automobile Driving / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mexico / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Trauma Severity Indices*
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*