Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Alcohol's role in traffic deaths vastly underreported: Study

24.03.2014

It's no secret that drinking and driving can be a deadly mix. But the role of alcohol in U.S. traffic deaths may be substantially underreported on death certificates, according to a study in the March issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Between 1999 and 2009, more than 450,000 Americans were killed in a traffic crashes. But in cases where alcohol was involved, death certificates frequently failed to list alcohol as a cause of death.

Why does that matter? One big reason is that injuries are the leading cause of death for Americans younger than 45, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And it's important to have a clear idea of alcohol's role in those deaths, explained Ralph Hingson, Sc.D., of the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

"We need to have a handle on what's contributing to the leading cause of death among young people," Hingson said. What's more, he noted, researchers need reliable data to study the effects of policies aimed at reducing alcohol-related deaths.

... more about:
»alcohol »blood »blood-alcohol »death »fatalities

"You want to know how big the problem is, and if we can track it," Hingson said. "Is it going up, or going down? And what policy measures are working?"

For the new study, I-Jen Castle, Ph.D., and a team led by Hingson focused on traffic deaths because, of all types of accidental fatalities, that's where researchers have the best data. This is partly because many U.S. states—about half right now—require that fatally injured drivers be tested for blood alcohol levels, and nationwide about 70% of those drivers are tested.

Hingson's team used a database maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, called the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)—which contains the blood alcohol levels of Americans killed in traffic crashes. They compared that information with deaths certificate data from all U.S. states.

Overall, they found, death certificates greatly underreported the role of alcohol in traffic deaths between 1999 and 2009: Just over 3 percent listed alcohol as a contributing cause. But based on the FARS figures, 21 percent of those deaths were legally drunk.

The picture varied widely from state to state. In some states—such as Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, and New Jersey—alcohol was rarely listed on death certificates. Certain other states did much better, including Delaware, Iowa, Kansas, and Minnesota. It's not fully clear why alcohol is so often left off of death certificates. One reason could be the time it takes to get blood-alcohol test results back. Coroners or medical examiners usually have to file a death certificate within three to five days, Hingson's team notes, but toxicology results might take longer than that.

The reasons for the wide variation among states aren't known either. But Hingson said that's an important question. "Some states have been pretty successful," he noted. "What are they doing right?"

It doesn't seem to be only a matter of passing laws: States that mandate alcohol testing for deceased drivers did not always do better when it came to reporting alcohol as a contributor on death certificates.

Whatever the reasons, Hingson said, the role of alcohol in injury deaths may be seriously underestimated on death certificates. And the situation is likely worse with other types of accidental deaths, such as falls, drug poisoning/overdoses, and drowning, for which there is no mandatory blood alcohol testing or other reporting systems.

Hingson said he thinks testing should be done in those cases as well.

###

Castle, I.-J. P., Yi, H.-Y., Hingson, R. W., & White, A. M. (March 2014). State variation in underreporting of alcohol involvement on death certificates: Motor vehicle traffic crash fatalities as an example. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 75(2), 299.

To arrange an interview with Ralph Hingson, Sc.D., please contact John Bowersox at 301-443-2857 or jbowersox@niaaa.nih.gov.

The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs is published by the Center of Alcohol Studies at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. It is the oldest substance-related journal published in the United States.

To learn about education and training opportunities for addiction counselors and others at the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies, please visit AlcoholStudiesEd.rutgers.edu.

John Bowersox | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: alcohol blood blood-alcohol death fatalities

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Self-assembling nano inks form conductive and transparent grids during imprint

Transparent electronics devices are present in today’s thin film displays, solar cells, and touchscreens. The future will bring flexible versions of such devices. Their production requires printable materials that are transparent and remain highly conductive even when deformed. Researchers at INM – Leibniz Institute for New Materials have combined a new self-assembling nano ink with an imprint process to create flexible conductive grids with a resolution below one micrometer.

To print the grids, an ink of gold nanowires is applied to a substrate. A structured stamp is pressed on the substrate and forces the ink into a pattern. “The...

Im Focus: The Glowing Brain

A new Fraunhofer MEVIS method conveys medical interrelationships quickly and intuitively with innovative visualization technology

On the monitor, a brain spins slowly and can be examined from every angle. Suddenly, some sections start glowing, first on the side and then the entire back of...

Im Focus: Newly discovered material property may lead to high temp superconductivity

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Ames Laboratory have discovered an unusual property of purple bronze that may point to new ways to achieve high temperature superconductivity.

While studying purple bronze, a molybdenum oxide, researchers discovered an unconventional charge density wave on its surface.

Im Focus: Mapping electromagnetic waveforms

Munich Physicists have developed a novel electron microscope that can visualize electromagnetic fields oscillating at frequencies of billions of cycles per second.

Temporally varying electromagnetic fields are the driving force behind the whole of electronics. Their polarities can change at mind-bogglingly fast rates, and...

Im Focus: Continental tug-of-war - until the rope snaps

Breakup of continents with two speed: Continents initially stretch very slowly along the future splitting zone, but then move apart very quickly before the onset of rupture. The final speed can be up to 20 times faster than in the first, slow extension phase.phases

Present-day continents were shaped hundreds of millions of years ago as the supercontinent Pangaea broke apart. Derived from Pangaea’s main fragments Gondwana...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2016: 7th Conference on the Art, Technology and Theory of Digital Games

29.07.2016 | Event News

GROWING IN CITIES - Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Urban Gardening

15.07.2016 | Event News

SIGGRAPH2016 Computer Graphics Interactive Techniques, 24-28 July, Anaheim, California

15.07.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Vortex laser offers hope for Moore's Law

29.07.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Novel 'repair system' discovered in algae may yield new tools for biotechnology

29.07.2016 | Life Sciences

Clash of Realities 2016: 7th Conference on the Art, Technology and Theory of Digital Games

29.07.2016 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>