Alcohol policy and fatal alcohol-related crashes in Finland 2000-2016.Traffic Inj Prev. 2018 07 04; 19(5):476-479.TI
The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between annual alcohol consumption per capita/alcohol price index and the number of alcohol-related fatal motor vehicle accidents (AFMVAs). We were particularly interested in whether a tax reduction in 2004 increased the number of alcohol-related accidents.
The data consisted of all fatal motor vehicle accidents (FMVAs) during the years 2000-2016 obtained from a database maintained by the Finnish Crash Data Institute (OTI). The data included all fatally injured drivers. We compared the OTI data to official statistics on annual alcohol consumption and the alcohol price index.
There were 3,447 fatally injured drivers, of which 25% (n = 869) were intoxicated (blood alcohol concentration [BAC] ≥ 0.05%). After the reduction of the alcohol tax in 2004, the alcohol consumption rose 12.4% from 2003 to 2005 and AFMVAs rose 38%. There was a strong correlation (r = 0.7000, P < .018) between the recorded consumption of alcohol and the number of AFMVAs. There was a strong negative correlation between AFMVAs and the combined (retail + restaurant sales) alcohol price index (r = -0.7863, P = .0005). A linear mixed-effects model showed that a 1-L increase in total alcohol consumption per capita per year increases AFMVAs by 10.6 and a one-unit increase in the price index decreases AFMVAs by 1.8 per year.
The correlation between alcohol consumption and alcohol-related crashes should be considered when making political decisions regarding alcohol price and availability. Any further liberalization of the alcohol policy would likely lead to an increase in alcohol-related fatal motor vehicle accidents. Similar consequences are likely to occur with drugs. Alcohol price policy is an effective way to improve road safety, but other measures taken to prevent FMVAs also seem to reduce the prevalence of AFMVAs.