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Keywords:

  • Alcohol-impaired driving;
  • binge drinking;
  • helmet;
  • seat belt;
  • traffic crashes

ABSTRACT

Background  Previous studies on alcohol-related road safety have not assessed the joint impact of average volume of alcohol and binge drinking.

Aim  To examine the joint and separate association of average volume of alcohol and binge drinking with hazardous driving behaviour and traffic crashes.

Methods  Data were drawn from telephone interviews conducted in the period 2000–2005, with 12 037 individuals representative of the population aged 18–64 years in the Madrid region, Spain. The threshold between average moderate and heavy volumes was 40 g of alcohol/day in men and 24 g/day in women. Binge drinking was defined as intake of ≥ 80 g of alcohol in men and ≥ 60 g in women, during any drinking occasion in the preceding 30 days. Individuals were classified into the following categories: (i) non-drinkers; (ii) moderate drinkers with no binge drinking (MDNB); (iii) moderate drinkers with binge drinking (MDB); (iv) heavy drinkers with no binge drinking (HDNB); and (v) heavy drinkers with binge drinking (HDB). Analyses were performed using logistic regression, with adjustment for sex, age and educational level.

Findings  Frequency of inadequate seat-belt use increased progressively across categories of alcohol consumption, with odds ratio (OR) 1 in non-drinkers, 1.19 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.06–1.33] in MDNB, 1.69 (1.41–2.03) in MDB, 1.68 (1.24–2.29) in HDNB and 2.41 (1.83–3.18) in HDB (P for trend < 0.001). Compared with MDNB, alcohol-impaired driving was also more frequent in MDB (OR 7.43; 95% CI: 5.52–10.00), HDNB (OR 7.31; 95% CI: 4.37–12.25) and in HDB (OR 15.50; 95% CI: 10.62–22.61). Lastly, compared with non-drinkers, frequency of traffic crashes increased progressively across categories of alcohol consumption (P for trend = 0.028), although it only reached statistical significance in HDB (OR 2.01; 95% CI: 1.00–4.09).

Conclusions  Self-reported average volume of alcohol and binge drinking are both associated with self-reported hazardous driving behaviour and traffic crashes. The strength of the association is greater when average heavy consumption and binge drinking occur jointly.