Background: Personal responses to stressful life events are suspected of increasing the risk of serious traffic accidents.
Methods: We analyzed data from a French cohort study (the GAZEL cohort), including a retrospective driving behavior questionnaire, from 13,915 participants (10,542 men age 52–62 years and 3373 women age 47–62 years in 2001). Follow-up data covered 1993–2000. Hazard ratios for serious accidents (n = 713) were computed by Cox's proportional hazard regression with time-dependent covariates. Separate analyses were also performed to consider only at-fault accidents.
Results: Marital separation or divorce was associated with an increased risk of a serious accident (all serious accidents: hazard ratio 2.9, 95% confidence interval = 1.7–5.0; at-fault accidents: 4.4, 2.3–8.3). The impact of separation and divorce did not differ according to alcohol consumption levels. Other life events associated with increased risk of serious accident were a child leaving home (all accidents: 1.2, 0.97–1.6; at-fault accidents: 1.5, 1.1–2.1), an important purchase (all accidents: 1.4, 1.1–1.7; at-fault accidents: 1.6, 1.2–2.1), and hospitalization of the partner (all accidents: 1.4, 1.1–2.0).
Conclusion: This study suggests that recent separation and divorce are associated with an increase in serious traffic accidents.
From the *INSERM U88, Saint-Maurice, France; †Institut Fédératif de Recherche 69, France; and ‡UMRETTE-INRETS, Bron, France.
Submitted 20 August 2003; final version accepted 29 June 2004.
This project was funded by Renault, Electricité de France, Gaz de France and Fondation MAIF.
Correspondence: Emmanuel Lagarde, INSERM U88, 14, rue du Val d'Osne, 94415 Saint-Maurice Cedex, France. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.