Lead author Susan P. Baker, a professor with the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, part of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and colleagues analyzed data on drivers licensed in the United States, Mexico and Canada, who were involved in crashes that resulted in at least one death in the United States from 1998 to 2008.
The researchers said the prevalence of alcohol involvement in fatal crashes was 27 percent for both U.S. and Mexican drivers, but 11 percent for Canadian drivers.
The study, published in the journal Injury Prevention, determined alcohol impairment was found in 23 percent of U.S. and Mexican drivers and 8 percent of Canadian drivers involved in fatal crashes.
Research from other countries finds foreign drivers are at greater risk of crashes than native drivers. In contrast, this study shows drivers licensed in Mexico and Canada who were involved in fatal crashes in the United States had the same or less alcohol impairment than U.S.-licensed drivers.
"Our findings were unexpected, partly because the substantial cultural differences between the U.S. and Mexico led us to anticipate differences in alcohol-related crashes," Baker said in a statement. "We also anticipated that Canadian drivers in U.S. crashes would be similar to U.S. drivers because the rate of alcohol-related fatal crashes is similar within the two countries."