A case-control study estimating accident risk for alcohol, medicines and illegal drugs

K.P.C. Kuypers*, S.A. Legrand, J.G. Ramaekers, A.G. Verstraete

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: The aim of the present study was to assess the risk of having a traffic accident after using alcohol, single drugs, or a combination, and to determine the concentrations at which this risk is significantly increased. METHODS: A population-based case-control study was carried out, collecting whole blood samples of both cases and controls, in which a number of drugs were detected. The risk of having an accident when under the influence of drugs was estimated using logistic regression adjusting for gender, age and time period of accident (cases)/sampling (controls). The main outcome measures were odds ratio (OR) for accident risk associated with single and multiple drug use. In total, 337 cases (negative: 176; positive: 161) and 2726 controls (negative: 2425; positive: 301) were included in the study. RESULTS: Main findings were that 1) alcohol in general (all the concentrations together) caused an elevated crash risk; 2) cannabis in general also caused an increase in accident risk; at a cut-off of 2 ng/mL THC the risk of having an accident was four times the risk associated with the lowest THC concentrations; 3) when ranking the adjusted OR from lowest to highest risk, alcohol alone or in combination with other drugs was related to a very elevated crash risk, with the highest risk for stimulants combined with sedatives. CONCLUSION: The study demonstrated a concentration-dependent crash risk for THC positive drivers. Alcohol and alcohol-drug combinations are by far the most prevalent substances in drivers and subsequently pose the largest risk in traffic, both in terms of risk and scope.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere43496
Number of pages9
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2012



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