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Mortality and causes of death among drugged drivers
  1. Karoliina Karjalainen1,
  2. Tomi Lintonen2,3,
  3. Antti Impinen1,
  4. Pia Mäkelä1,
  5. Ossi Rahkonen4,
  6. Pirjo Lillsunde1,
  7. Aini Ostamo1,3
  1. 1National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
  2. 2The Police College of Finland, Tampere, Finland
  3. 3Tampere School of Public Health, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland
  4. 4Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  1. Correspondence to Karoliina Karjalainen, National Institute for Health and Welfare, P.O. Box 30, Helsinki FI-00271, Finland; karoliina.karjalainen{at}


Background Studying drugged drivers gives complementary information about mortality of drug users, which mainly has been studied among opioid abusers. The aim of this study was to analyse mortality rates and causes of death among drivers under the influence of drugs (DUID) in Finland and compare them with the general Finnish population during 1993–2006.

Methods Register data from 5832 DUID suspects apprehended by the police were studied, with a reference group (n=74 809) drawn from the general Finnish population. Deaths were traced from the National Death Register. Survival and differences in mortality hazards were estimated using Kaplan–Meier plots and Cox regression models.

Results The hazard of death was higher among male (HR 9.6, CI 8.7 to 10.6) and female (HR 9.1, CI 6.4 to 12.8) DUID suspects compared to the reference population. Among male DUID suspects, cause-specific hazards were highest for poisoning/overdose, violence and suicide. 24% of DUID suspects and 8% of reference subjects were under the influence of drugs/alcohol at the time of death. Poly-drug findings indicated excess in mortality among drugged drivers. Hazard of death was higher among male DUID suspects who had findings for benzodiazepines only (HR 10.0, CI 8.4 to 11.9) or benzodiazepines with alcohol (HR 9.6, CI 8.2 to 11.2), than with findings for amphetamines (HR 4.6, CI 2.7 to 7.6).

Conclusion DUID suspects had an increased risk of death in all observed causes of death. Findings for benzodiazepines indicated excessive mortality over findings for amphetamines. Preventive actions should be aimed especially at DUID subgroups using benzodiazepines.

  • Drugged drivers
  • total mortality
  • cause-specific mortality
  • drugs

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  • Funding Academy of Finland (grant no. 118563), Helsinki, Finland and Emil Aaltonen's Foundation, Tampere, Finland.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Institutional Review Board of the National Institute for Health and Welfare.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.