High rates of injured motorcycle drivers in emergency rooms and the association with substance use in Porto Alegre, Brazil

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Abstract

Background

Although the fleet of motorcycles and the number of traffic accidents (TA) is increasing in the world, few studies have evaluated intoxication by alcohol and/or drugs in this group of drivers. This study aims to evaluate the prevalence of motorcycle riders among drivers who are victims of TA, and ascertain factors associated with drug and alcohol use.

Methods

All TA victims admitted on a 24/7 routine between October and November 2008 to two trauma hospitals of Porto Alegre, Brazil were invited to participate, then submitted to an interview, breathalysed and had their saliva collected for drugs.

Results

Among the overall sample of drivers, 78.4% were motorcycle riders. Toxicological analysis yielded a 15.3% prevalence of marijuana use, 9.2% of cocaine use, 3.2% benzodiazepine use and 7% of alcohol use. Factors associated with alcohol or drug intoxication were the diagnosis of alcohol abuse or dependence and history of previous TA.

Conclusions

The prevalence of motorcycle riders among drivers who are victims of TA was alarming. The association of alcohol abuse or dependency and intoxication justify the need for therapeutic interventions specifically targeted to the treatment of drug dependency, as well as public policies directed to prevention of injuries–particularly among recidivist motorcycle riders.

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