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Profile of fatally injured pedestrians and bicyclists in the United States with high blood alcohol concentrations

Eichelberger, Angela H.; Cicchino, Jessica B.; McCartt, Anne T.
Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Alcohol, Drugs, and Traffic Safety (CD-ROM)
October 2013

Background: In the United States, little research has focused on the problem of alcohol impairment among pedestrians and bicyclists.
Aims: The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence, trends, and characteristics of alcoholimpaired fatally injured pedestrians and bicyclists.
Methods: The study analyzed 1992-2011 data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), a census of U.S. fatal motor vehicle crashes. Personal characteristics, roadway type, and other factors were examined among fatally injured pedestrians and bicyclists 16 and older who had high blood alcohol concentrations (BACs).
Results: The number of pedestrians killed in motor vehicle crashes decreased and the number of bicyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes increased among ages 16 and older during the study period; however, the percentages with high BACs changed little. Among fatally injured pedestrians, the percentage with BACs =0.08% was 39% in 1992 and 37% in 2011. Among fatally injured bicyclists, the percentage with BACs =0.08% was 26% in 1992 and 25% in 2011. During the most recent 5 years of data (2007-11), 20,326 pedestrians 16 and older were fatally injured, and 37% of them had BACs =0.08%. The percentage of fatally injured pedestrians with BACs =0.08% was higher among males (43%) and ages 21-49 (47-50%), on weekends (49%), and in crashes occurring at night, especially during midnight-2:59 a.m. (60%). During the most recent 5 years of data (2007-11), 2,907 bicyclists 16 and older were fatally injured in crashes with motor vehicles, and 26% of them had BACs =0.08%. The percentage of bicyclist deaths with BACs =0.08% was highest during midnight-2:59 a.m. (49%) and among ages 30-49 (34-36%).
Conclusions: A substantial proportion of fatally injured pedestrians and bicyclists had high BACs, and this proportion has changed little during the last two decades. To the extent that alcohol impairment of pedestrians and bicyclists contributes to their deaths, countermeasures addressing alcohol consumption among these groups are needed.