Five-Year Update on the Occurrence of Alcohol and Other Drugs in Blood Samples from Drivers Killed in Road-Traffic Crashes in Sweden

According to statistics provided by the Swedish National Road Administration (Vagverket), a total of 1,403 drivers were killed in road-traffic crashes in Sweden between 2003 and 2007. Forensic autopsies were performed in approximately 97% of all deaths and specimens of blood and urine were sent for toxicological analysis. In 60% of cases (N=835) the toxicology results were negative and 83% of these victims were men. The blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) was above the legal limit for driving (>0.2g/L) in 22% of cases (N=315) at mean, median and highest concentrations of 1.7g/L, 1.7g/L and 4.9g/L, respectively. The proportions of male to female drivers with BAC>0.2g/L were 93% vs 7% compared with 83% vs 17% for those with drugs other than alcohol in blood. Drivers with a punishable BAC were over-represented in single vehicle crashes compared with multiple vehicle crashes (67% vs 33%). The opposite held for drivers who had taken a prescription drug (39% vs 61%) and also for drug-negative cases (31% vs 69%). Drugs other than alcohol were identified in 253 cases (18%); illicit drugs only in 39 cases (2.8%), both licit and illicit in 28 cases (2.0%) and in 186 cases (13.3%) one or more therapeutic drugs were present. Amphetamine was the most common illicit drug identified at mean, median and highest concentrations of 1.5mg/L, 1.1mg/L and 5.0mg/L, respectively (N=39). Blood specimens contained a wide spectrum of pharmaceutical products (mean 2.4 drugs/person), comprising sedative-hypnotics (N=93), opiates/opioids (N=69) as well non-scheduled substances, such as paracetamol (N=78) and antidepressants (N=93). The concentrations of these substances in blood were mostly in the therapeutic range. Despite an appreciable increase (12-fold) in number of arrests made by the police for drug-impaired driving after a zero-tolerance law was introduced (July 1999), alcohol still remains the psychoactive substance most frequently identified in the blood of drivers killed in road-traffic crashes.

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    • Abstract reprinted with permission of Elsevier.
  • Authors:
    • Jones, Alan Wayne
    • Kugelberg, Fredrik C
    • Holmgren, Anita
    • Ahlner, Johan
  • Publication Date: 2009-4-15


  • English

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  • Accession Number: 01149242
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jan 24 2010 8:18AM