ALCOHOL AND FATAL TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS: WHY ARE THEY RELATED?
 
Stanislaw, H., California State University, Stanislaus, USA
 
Approximately 10% of all traffic accidents involve drivers with blood alcohol levels that exceed legally prescribed limits. However, this percentage jumps to 30% in fatal traffic accidents. Traffic safety agencies have long recognized the over-involvement of alcohol in fatal accidents, but surprisingly little research has been conducted to determine why alcohol is associated with increased accident severity. Several analyses of large-scale traffic safety databases were conducted to address this issue. The analyses sought to determine the relative importance of demographic variables relating to alcohol use, vehicle speed and vehicle maneuvering at the time of the accident, seat belt usage, and other factors. The analyses also tested the stereotypical belief that intoxicated drivers kill others, not themselves. The results suggest novel approaches that may be used to reduce the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities.