Prevalence and concentrations of drugs in elderly suspected drugged drivers.

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Prevalence and concentrations of drugs in elderly suspected drugged drivers.

Traffic Inj Prev. 2016 Oct 14;:0

Authors: Høiseth G, Austdal LE, Wiik E, Bogstrand ST, Mørland J


Objective Elderly drivers are somewhat more likely to be involved in car crashes than middle aged drivers, but less likely to be involved than the younger drivers. This study aimed to assess the extent of drug use in elderly suspected drunk and drugged drivers, with respect to which drugs were detected and at which concentrations. Methods Blood samples from elderly suspected drunk and drugged drivers from February 1(st) 2012 to May 22(th) 2013 were identified from the database at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and were retrospectively analyzed for a broad repertoire of drugs relevant for impairment. The prevalence of different drugs among the suspected drunk and drugged drivers was studied. Regarding drug concentrations, the findings in elderly drivers (>65 years) were compared to a reference group of apprehended drivers aged 20-40 years. Results 410 elderly suspected drunk and drugged drivers were included. Any drug (including ethanol) was detected in 92% of blood samples, while ethanol was detected in 81%. Benzodiazepines were found in 15% of the older drivers while z-hypnotics (zopiclone or zolpidem) were detected in 13%. The most frequent single legal drugs found in blood samples taken from the elderly impaired drivers were zopiclone (9.8%) and diazepam (9.3%). Regarding drug combinations, the older drivers used a mean number of 1.4 drugs, and 20% of ethanol positive cases showed at least one other drug in addition. High drug concentrations were more frequently seen in the younger group for clonazepam and diazepam. Conclusions This study showed that drugs were detected in the vast majority of elderly drivers suspected for drunk or drugged driving. Ethanol was the most frequent drug detected, followed by zopiclone and diazepam. Elderly combine drugs to a lesser degree, but their combination of ethanol and other drugs represent a considerable traffic risk. Lower concentrations of benzodiazepines are seen in older compared to younger drivers.

PMID: 27740861 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]