There are reports that the incidence of alcohol-involved crashes has remained stable among fatally injured drivers while drug involvement has increased in recent years.
Data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) from 2010 to 2013 were used to examine drug and alcohol status of drivers (N = 10 864) of 4-wheeled passenger vehicles involved in a fatal crash while transporting a passenger aged 0 to 14 years (N = 17 179). Mixed effect multivariable logistic regression used SAS GLIMMIX to control for clustering. Odds ratios are reported with 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
Only 28.9% of drivers were screened for both alcohol and drugs, and 56.7% were not tested for either. The total proportion of unrestrained child passengers increased nearly linearly by age. Findings ranged as high as 70% for 13- to 14-year-olds with drivers positive for drugs and alcohol. In multivariable adjusted models, inappropriate child seating with drivers who tested positive was as follows: alcohol, 1.30 (95% CI, 0.92–1.82); drugs, 1.54 (95% CI, 1.24–1.92); and for both drugs and alcohol, 1.88 (95% CI, 1.38–2.55). More than one-fourth were unrestrained with drivers positive for cannabis (27.7%). Overall mortality was approximately triple for unrestrained versus restrained (33.5% vs 11.5%; P < .0001) and was higher in front-seated than rear-seated passengers (40.7% vs 31.5%; P < .0001).
Passengers were less likely to be appropriately seated and to be restrained when transported by a driver positive for drugs and alcohol, but this finding varied according to passenger age and drug/alcohol category.