We have a new website go to gov.scot

Alcohol and the Pedestrian Road Casualty - Research Findings

DescriptionThe study involved the collection of data by hospital staff on all pedestrian road accident casualties attending Accident and Emergency departments in 5 large Scottish hospitals in 1996/97.
ISBN0 7480 7027 3
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateDecember 29, 1998
Development Department Research Programme Research Findings No. 49 (1998)
Alcohol and the Pedestrian Road Casualty

Carole Millar Research
College of Art/Heriot-Watt University

ISBN 0-7480-7027-3Publisher The Scottish OfficePrice £5.00
Recent research suggests a link between pedestrian casualties and the consumption of alcohol. The Scottish Office commissioned research to investigate the relationship between pedestrian casualties and alcohol consumption in Scotland. The study involved the collection of data by hospital staff on all road accident casualties attending Accident and Emergency departments in 5 large Scottish hospitals in 1996/97. In total 1,115 casualty records were collected of which 145 were pedestrian casualties.
Main Findings
  • Of all road traffic casualties, 9% had evidence of alcohol consumption. This rises markedly amongst pedestrians where nearly a third (31%) of all pedestrian casualties had consumed alcohol.
  • When drink is a factor in a pedestrian accident, male pedestrians are more likely to be involved than female pedestrians, with 87% of pedestrian casualties who have consumed alcohol being male.
  • Whilst there is a greater likelihood of being involved in an accident as a pedestrian if under 30, alcohol does not appear to be a contributing factor.
  • Pedestrians in the 40-49 age group show an increased risk of being involved in an accident if alcohol is involved.
  • Of all casualties, there was a greater likelihood of being admitted to hospital if alcohol was involved.
  • A greater level of admissions to hospitals was evident amongst pedestrians who had been drinking, being more than twice as likely to be admitted than those who had not been drinking.
  • Where alcohol was a factor, pedestrian casualties were more likely in the evening and early hours of the morning with Saturdays being a peak time for alcohol related casualties.
The Research
Road accident statistics and recent research have suggested that there may be a link between pedestrian accidents and the consumption of alcohol. It is in this context that The Scottish Office commissioned Carole Millar Research to undertake a study to investigate the relationship between pedestrian accidents and alcohol consumption in Scotland.
More specifically the research aimed to
  • Establish the main groups of pedestrian casualty affected by alcohol.
  • Establish the time of day and day of the week, when a pedestrian casualty is most likely to be involved in an accident.
  • Compare the number and type of pedestrian road casualty with other road casualties.
  • Compare the proportion of pedestrian casualties affected by alcohol with the proportion of all road casualties affected by alcohol.
Methodology
Accident and emergency departments of 5 major Scottish hospitals collected data relating to casualties presenting as a result of a road traffic accident between October 1996 and April 1997. All casualties were asked for their agreement to participate in the study by providing a breath sample allowing a measurement of alcohol consumption to be made. Where a breath sample was not possible for health or other reasons, a subjective indication of whether alcohol had been consumed was made. Information was also collected on the type of casualty, age, sex, day of week, date and seriousness of injury as defined by whether the casualty was admitted to hospital, discharged or discharged but followed up in some way.
Pedestrian casualties only were linked to police records where possible to yield further information on the circumstances of the accident.
In total 1,115 casualty records were collected, of which 145 were pedestrian casualties.
Results
Evidence of alcohol by type of casualty
Pedestrian casualties were significantly more likely to have consumed alcohol than any other of the casualty groups. Nearly a third (31%) of all pedestrian casualties had consumed alcohol prior to their accident compared to 5% of drivers and 9% of car passengers.
Figure 1
Proportion showing evidence of alcohol by type of casualty
Figure 1 Proportion showing evidence of alcohol by type of casualty
Gender Differences
Road traffic accidents in general are more likely to involve male than female pedestrians (57% compared to 43%). Where there is evidence of alcohol consumption, this gender difference becomes even more marked with 87% of pedestrian casualties who have consumed alcohol being male.
Of all male pedestrian casualties, nearly half (48%) had consumed alcohol compared to only one in ten female pedestrian casualties.
Figure 2
Proportion showing evidence of alcohol by gender
Figure 2 Proportion showing evidence of alcohol by gender
Significantly there was a more even split amongst those casualties who had not consumed alcohol (52% male compared to 48% female).
Age Differences
As a pedestrian, risk is highest for the younger group under the age of 30. The study suggests however that alcohol is not an influencing factor, with accident rates being higher in the non-drinking group than those who had been drinking.
When alcohol is added to the equation, pedestrians in the 40-49 show an increased risk of accident. Of all pedestrian casualties in the 40-49 age group, over half had consumed alcohol.
Figure 3
Proportion showing evidence of alchol by age
Figure 3 Proportion showing evidence of alchol by age
Seriousness of Injury
Alcohol also increased the likelihood of the injury sustained being serious enough to require admission to hospital by two or three times. Overall, casualties who had consumed alcohol were much more likely to be admitted to hospital than those casualties who had not been drinking (29% compared to 9%).
This rose to 49% of pedestrians who had been drinking requiring admission to hospital compared to 20% who had not been drinking.
Table 1
Seriousness of injury by whether alcohol consumed

Total casualties

Pedestrian casualties

Evidence
of alcohol
%

No evidence
of alcohol
%

Evidence
of alcohol
%

No evidence
of alcohol
%

Discharged-
no follow up

50

66

36

50

Discharged-
with follow up

5

4

4

6

Admitted

29

9

49

20

Not stated

17

20

11

24

Base

103

926

45

88

Timing of Accidents
Casualties where alcohol was a factor were most likely to occur on a Saturday night, most notably for pedestrians and car passengers.
Where no alcohol is consumed, pedestrian accidents are more prevalent during the day. Where alcohol is a factor, accidents are more likely to occur in the evening or early hours of the morning.
The following chart shows the proportion of total and pedestrian casualties affected by alcohol by time of day of the accident.
Figure 4
Proportion showing evidence of alcohol by time of day
Figure 4 Proportion showing evidence of alcohol by time of day
Other Circumstances of Pedestrians Accidents
Pedestrian accidents where alcohol was a factor were more likely to occur in darkness reflecting the findings on time of accident.
Examination of the circumstances surrounding pedestrian accidents suggests that those who have not consumed alcohol are aware of increased risk whereas those who have been drinking are more oblivious to increased risk caused by poor light, poor weather or poor road conditions.
Conclusions
Although these findings are based on small sample sizes and therefore caution should be taken in their interpretation, they provide evidence of a strong relationship between alcohol and pedestrian casualties.
The relationship is more evident amongst men and in the evening and night which was consistent with previous research undertaken in England and Wales.
'Alcohol and the Pedestrian Road Casualty', the research report which is summarised in this Research Findings, is available priced £5.00.
Cheques should be made payable to The Stationery Office and addressed to:
The Stationery Office Bookshop,
71 Lothian Road,
Edinburgh EH3 9AZ
Telephone: 0131-662 7050, or Fax: 0131-662 7017.

The report can also be ordered online from:www.thestationeryoffice.co.uk

Further copies of this Research Findings can be obtained from:
The Scottish Office Central Research Unit,
2J, Victoria Quay,
Edinburgh EH6 6QQ
Telephone: 0131-244 7560