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Alcohol-Related Relative Risk of Driver Fatalities and Driver Involvement in Fatal Crashes in Relation to Driver Age and Gender: An Update Using 1996 Data

Paul L. Zador, Sheila A. Krawchuk, Robert B. Voas

Objective: To re-examine and refine estimates for alcohol-related relative risk of driver involvement in fatal crashes by age and gender as a function of blood alcohol concentration (BAG) using recent data. Method: Logistic regression was used to estimate age/gender specific relative risk of fatal crash involvement as a function of the BAC for drivers involved in a fatal crash and for drivers fatally injured in a crash, by combining crash data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System with exposure data from the 1996 National Roadside Survey of Drivers. Results: In general, the relative risk of involvement in a fatal vehicle crash increased steadily with increasing driver BAC in every age/gender group among both fatally injured and surviving drivers. Among 16-20 year old male drivers, a BAC increase of 0.02% was estimated to more than double the relative risk of fatal single-vehicle crash injury. At the midpoint of the 0.08% - 0.10% BAC range, the relative risk of a fatal single-vehicle crash injury varied between 11.4 (drivers 35 and older) and 51.9 (male drivers, 16-20). With only very few exceptions, older drivers had lower risk of being fatally injured in a single-vehicle crash than younger drivers, as did women compared with men in the same age range. When comparable, results largely confirmed existing prior estimates. Conclusions: This is the first study that systematically estimated relative risk for drink-drivers with BACs between 0.08% and 0.10% (these relative risk estimates apply to BAC range midpoints at 0.09%.) The results clearly show that drivers with a BAC under 0.10% pose highly elevated risk both to themselves and to other road users. (J. Stud. Alcohol 61: 387-395, 2000)