THE EPIDEMIOLOGY OF TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS AND THE EFFECT OF THE 1969 BREATHLYSER LAW IN CANADA

Clossic epidemiologic indices have been applied to deaths and injuries for traffic accidents before and after the introduction of Canada's breathalyser law. The disease frequency measures incidence, case-fatality, and mortality focus on the breathalyser's health impact in relation to all the people at risk in a community over a specific period of time. This particular feature of these indices permits an ongoing community health assessment of the effect of the breathalyser law or other innovations in traffic safety. A major hypothisis of this analysis has been that any programme of accident prevention may have effects on either or both the incidence and case-fatality rates and that these, together, affect mortality rate. The findings here have suggested that the introduction of the breathalyser law corresponded to reductions in both the incidence of injury (the greater reductions in incidence occurred during the "heavy drinking" periods of 6 p.m. to 12 midnight and 12 midnight to 6 a.m.) and the case-fatality rate, producing a magnified downward movement in mortality rate. The indicated magnitude of this effect represented a reduction of 487 deaths in Canada as a whole during the first five months in which the law was in effect. As mentioned above, the prime objective of this paper has not been to state categorically the level of success or failure of the breathalyser in reducing traffic accidents. Rather, the purpose of this preliminary analysis has been to demonstrate the use of an appropriate epidemiologic evaluation that permits an on-going assessment of the breathalyser (or other innovations in traffic safety). All observations have been made taking into account that a short period has elapsed since its introduction. These findings in Canada may represent the initial "Shock" effect of the law which appears to have occurred in Britain. And, like the British experience, the magnitude of the initial effect may taper out over time. Future evaluation of the Canadian experience will not be possible until the data become available. (A)

Media Info

  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: p. 689-698
  • Serial:
    • Volume: 6

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00132070
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Safety Council Safety Research Info Serv
  • Report/Paper Numbers: Proceeding
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Oct 29 1977 12:00AM