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P093: The effect of Alberta’s new impaired driving legislation on motor vehicle-related trauma

  • B. Nakashima (a1), L. Rollick (a1), M. Frey (a1) and I.M. Wishart (a1)

Abstract

Introduction: Motor vehicle collisions (MVCs) resulting in injuries and death disproportionately involve impaired drivers. Those under the influence of alcohol also have a much higher rate of presentation and admission to hospital for traumatic injuries. In an attempt to decrease impaired driving and consequently alcohol related MVCs and injuries, the government of Alberta recently introduced more strict legislation in the summer of 2012 for drivers found to be under the influence of alcohol. However, it has yet to be seen what impact the enforcement of this new legislation has had on traumatic injuries secondary to MVCs and alcohol impairment. The objective of this study was to assess the relationship between the implementation of Alberta’s new impaired driving legislation and the number of alcohol-related motor vehicle traumatic injuries presenting to the emergency department of a Level I Trauma Centre. Methods: A retrospective single centre cross-sectional chart review examining all adult patients presenting to the ED of a major trauma centre who: a) require trauma team activation or consultation and b) have a MVC related injury. Of those charts meeting these criteria, the proportion of patients with positive ethanol screens will be compared between the year before and after the new legislation being implemented. Patients will be identified using electronic medical record logs. Results: 938 total MVC related trauma patients were identified during the study period (468 prior to legislation enactment [2010-2012], 470 after [2012-2014]). 33.3% of these MVC trauma patients had positive ethanol screens prior to the legislation enactment and 32.4% after (a non significant decrease). Interestingly, with a secondary analysis on a year by year basis, the trends appear to be more noteworthy. When comparing between 2010 and 2013 there was a statistically significant drop in the number of cases over legal limit by 7.74%. Subgroup analysis also demonstrated a large, statistically significant drop in 16-24 yr old cases between 2010 and 2013, from 29 to 11% (a 62% drop). Conclusion: While an impact was not seen immediately following the enactment of Alberta’s new impaired driving legislation, a year by year analysis demonstrates a statistically significant decrease in MVC related trauma involving alcohol in the years following the new law. Of note, a substantial 62% drop was seen in the 16-24 year old age category.

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