BACKGROUND:

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.

METHODS:

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).

RESULTS:

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).

CONCLUSIONS:

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.

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