Background: Drug abuse is a public health problem in any country and road safety in particular as it poses serious consequences while driving, affecting the safety of all road users. This study aimed to investigate the drug prevalence and alcohol abuse among motor vehicle crash (MVC) survivors. Methods: This descriptive study was based on a review of the retrospective chart involving patients that were admitted to the Emergency Department (ED) of a level-I trauma center in Riyadh following an MVC. Injured patients in 2018 were identified from the electronic medical record system, and substance investigation was documented. After the hospital discharge, the research team contacted patients via phone to obtain further details about the nature of the crash and illegal substance use. Results: During the study, 209 patients were admitted to the ED following MVCs. The population was primarily males (84.7%) with an average age of 30 years. Forty subjects (19.14%) were screened for illegal substances by blood, urine, or both, 35 of which had confirmed intoxication. Alcohol was used in almost two-thirds of the 35 lab-confirmed intoxicated subjects (n = 23, 65.71%) either alone or in combination with other types of drugs. Conclusion: The widespread use of alcohol and other drug abuse among those involved in MVC is alarming and endangers road safety. There is a need to implement well-defined guidelines to screen, detect, and impose a penalty on driving under the influence to reduce MVC and improve population health.
Keywords: Illegal Substances, Motor Vehicle Crash (MVC), Saudi Arabia, Drug Abuse, Alcohol, Emergency Department (ED), Trauma.