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Breath alcohol analysis of 449 patients with motor vehicle injuries attending the emergency department of a Taiwan urban general hospital during a 10-week period showed that 19.2 per cent had breath alcohol concentration (BAC) > 0.002 per cent and 8.5 per cent ≥ 0.05 per cent). Injured males were more likely to have BAC ≥ 0.05 per cent than women (11 per cent vs 0 per cent). Injuries resulting from alcohol-associated collisions were about 6.7 times more likely to occur between 1800 and 0600 than at other time periods. A telephone survey after hospital discharge showed that the risk factors of alcohol use, speed at time of collision and type and site of collision were significantly associated with degree of economic loss resulting from the accidents. Logistic regression analysis showed that the odds of high economic loss associated with BAC > 0.002 per cent were three times greater than for persons in whom no alcohol was detected. This is the first study in Taiwan to use breath alcohol analysis in assessing the effect of alcohol consumption on motor vehicle injuries. The results show that alcohol use is an important cause of motor vehicle injuries. Preventive measures such as strict legal control of drunk driving and limitation of the hours that drinking places can stay open at night are recommended to reduce the damage caused by this severe public health problem.
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Accepted: February 18, 1991
© 1991 Published by Elsevier Inc.