Injured pedestrians in Cape Town--the role of alcohol.
Peden MM., Knottenbelt JD., van der Spuy J., Oodit R., Scholtz HJ., Stokol JM.
OBJECTIVE: To establish a profile of injured adult pedestrians and attempt to define the role which alcohol plays in this regard. DESIGN: Prospective survey of injured pedestrians who presented consecutively over 9 weeks to Groote Schuur Hospital. Data on fatally injured pedestrians were retrospectively collected from the State Mortuary. SETTING: Hospital-based study conducted at the trauma unit, Groote Schuur Hospital. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 321 pedestrians--196 injured and 35 'dead on arrival'. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Sociodemographics, blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and injury severity. RESULTS: Patients were predominantly male and, on average, 35.6 years old. They were most frequently injured at night and over weekends. The BAC was positive in 62.1% of pedestrians, and the mean BAC was 0.19 g/dl. Most pedestrians had at least one lower limb injury and nearly half had a head injury; however, BAC-positive pedestrians were 2.6 times more likely to have a head injury (P = 0.0009). Furthermore, BAC-positive pedestrians sustained more severe injuries, more frequently required admission to the ICU, had longer hospital admission and were more likely to die of their injuries. The overall case fatality rate was 19.5%. CONCLUSIONS: The influence of alcohol intoxication among injured adult pedestrians in Cape Town is high, suggesting that alcohol plays a major role in these accidents. Consequently, there should be some degree of culpability in those who cross the road while in an intoxicated state. However, equal attention should be given to safe and convenient crossing points, good lighting and education with regard to the wearing of reflective clothing after dark.