An analytical approach to drug-facilitated traffic accident: Investigation of benzodiazepine and alcohol in biological samples
Nihan Doğusan Gokce, Selda Mercan, Selman Yeniocak, Zeynep Turkmen, Ozgur Sogut, Macit Koldas, Murat Yayla, Munevver Acikkol
Benzodiazepines are prescribed for the treatment of sleep disorder, anxiety and muscle pain and also have addiction potential due to their effects on central nervous system. These frequently abused substances may also cause impaired driving skill. The aim of this prospective study was to develop an optimized Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) method for some benzodiazepines in serum and to perform the method on real samples collected from injured drivers. It was also aimed to simultaneously determine the frequency of ethyl alcohol use during traffic accidents. Samples were collected from 44 injured drivers involved in traffic accidents. Serum samples (n=40) were extracted by Solid Phase Extraction (SPE) method and analyzed by GC-MS for benzodiazepines, and whole blood samples (n=37) were analyzed by Head Space/GC-MS for alcohol analysis.The linear range was 1.25-30 Î¼g/mL for diazepam, 5-120 Î¼g/mL for alprazolam and 10-60 Î¼g/mL for clonazepam with r2 â‰¥0.997 correlation coefficients while the recovery value was â‰¥70.2%. Limits of Detection for diazepam, alprazolam and clonazepam were 0.09 Î¼g/mL, 0.2 Î¼g/mL and 0.77 Î¼g/mL respectively. All these substances did not determine in any of the serum samples. Considering the alcohol analysis, 16.2% of drivers were drunk with 2-348 mg/dL alcohol concentrations. Although the numbers of samples were limited, surprisingly the rate of drunk drivers was substantially high. As a conclusion, an analytical method has been developed for determination of the mostly used benzodiazepines in Turkey, which may impair driving ability; it is needed to conduct further studies with more cases to reveal the effect of prescribed drugs on traffic accidents.
Key words: Benzodiazepines, alcohol, traffic accident, diazepam, alprazolam, clonazepam