142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

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Prescription medication, illegal drug, and alcohol use among elderly drivers killed in U.S. motor vehicle collisions, 2006-2012

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Monday, November 17, 2014 : 2:45 PM - 3:00 PM

Motao Zhu, MD, MS, PhD , Dept. of Epidemiology and Injury Control Research Center, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
Toni Rudisill, M.S. , Department of Epidemiology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
Background: With the ageing of the U.S. population, many adults continue to drive late in life.  As medication use often increases with age, there is concern that more seniors will be driving under the influence of drugs which may be impairing.  The purpose of this analysis is to explore medication, drug, and alcohol use in senior drivers fatally injured in traffic collisions.

Methods: Data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System were analyzed from 2007-2012. Drug prevalence rates and prevalence ratios were determined by comparing drivers ≥65 years of age to drivers aged 30-50 years using a random effects model.  Common broad and specific drugs were explored along with rates of any drug use, multiple medications, drug and alcohol use, and alcohol use only. 

Results: Drug use among drivers ≥65 years of age occurred in less than 20% of those tested.  Among those testing positive, 84% were confirmed to have consumed one or two drugs prior to collision.  Senior drivers tested positive for medications more than illicit drugs.  Benzodiazepines and narcotics, such as hydrocodone, were common.  The rates of drug involvement, multiple drug use, drug and alcohol use, and alcohol use only were considerably less in drivers ≥65 years of age.

Conclusions: While overall drug and alcohol use is less common among fatally injured senior drivers compared to middle aged drivers, narcotic and depressant use is often detected separately or in combination.  Driving under the influence of prescription drugs may be a growing traffic concern in the ageing U.S. population.

Learning Areas:


Learning Objectives:
Describe prescription medication, drug, and alcohol use among drivers 65 years of age and older whom were fatally injured in motor vehicle collision.

Keyword(s): Motor Vehicles, Aging

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered