Presence of Psychoactive Substances in Injured Belgian Drivers

This study was undertaken to estimate the percentage of drivers involved in a traffic crash in Belgium who have alcohol and drugs in their blood. Blood samples of the drivers injured in a traffic crash and admitted to the emergency departments of 5 hospitals in Belgium between January 2008 and May 2010 were analyzed for ethanol (with an enzymatic method) and 22 other psychoactive substances (with ultra-performance liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry or gas chromatography-mass spectrometry). One thousand seventy-eight drivers were included in the study. Alcohol (≥0.1 g/L) was the most common substance (26.2%). A large majority of the drivers (64%) who were positive for alcohol had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) ≥1.3 g/L (legal limit in Belgium: 0.5 g/L). These high BACs were most frequent among male injured drivers. Cannabis was the most prevalent illicit drug (5.3%) and benzodiazepines (5.3%) were the most prevalent medicinal drugs. Approximately 1 percent of the drivers were positive for cocaine and amphetamines. No drivers tested positive for illicit opioids. Medicinal drugs were more likely to be found among female drivers and drivers older than 35 years, and alcohol and illicit drugs were more likely to be found among male drivers and drivers younger than 35 years. A high percentage of the injured drivers were positive for a psychoactive substance at the time of injury. Alcohol was the most common substance, with 80 percent of the positive drivers having a BAC ≥0.5 g/L. Compared to a roadside survey in the same area, drivers/riders with high BACs and combinations of drugs were overrepresented. Efforts should be made to increase alcohol and drug enforcement. The introduction of a categorization and labeling system might reduce driving under the influence of medicinal drugs by informing health care professionals and patients.


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  • Accession Number: 01502654
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Nov 2 2013 3:04PM