University of Oulu

Philippe Lunetta & Kari Haikonen (2020) Land motor vehicle-related fatal drowning in Finland: A nation-wide population-based survey, Traffic Injury Prevention, 21:8, 533-538, DOI: 10.1080/15389588.2020.1810678

Land motor vehicle-related fatal drowning in Finland : a nation-wide population-based survey

Saved in:
Author: Lunetta, Philippe1,2; Haikonen, Kari3
Organizations: 1Department of Biomedicine; Forensic Medicine, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
2Department of Forensic Medicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.4 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Informa, 2020
Publish Date: 2021-01-21


Objective: WHO mortality statistics overlook land motor-vehicle accident (LMVA)-related drowning. The aim of the study was to provide an overview of the prevalence and trends of fatal LMVA-related drowning in Finland, plus the main crash settings, victims’ demographic characteristics, and contributing factors leading to such deaths.

Methods: A descriptive, retrospective, population-based study of drowning deaths associated with LMVA among Finnish residents of all ages, 1971–2013. LMVA-related drownings and applicable variables were extracted from the Statistics Finland (SF) mortality database by cross-analysis of ICD injury- and external cause-of-death codes.

Results: During the study period, 538 LMVAs leading to drowning occurred among Finnish residents (2.5/1 000 000/year; 4.9% of all unintentional drownings, 3.7% of all LMVA). Three main settings, ones responsible for over 95% of LMVA-related drownings, were recognized: traffic vehicle accidents involving a passenger car; non-traffic vehicle accident involving a snowmobile; and non-traffic accidents involving agricultural, industrial, or construction vehicles. Alcohol use was a contributing factor for death in > 40% of the victims, whereas severe injuries were reported in less than 6%.

Conclusion: Because transport safety is crucial to prevent any vehicle entering the water, placing LMVA-related drowning in the category of transport accidents is warranted. Once the vehicle becomes submersed, however, prevention measures to avoid death by drowning remains decisive.

see all

Series: Traffic injury prevention
ISSN: 1538-9588
ISSN-E: 1538-957X
ISSN-L: 1538-9588
Volume: 21
Issue: 8
Pages: 533 - 538
DOI: 10.1080/15389588.2020.1810678
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 319 Forensic science and other medical sciences
Copyright information: © 2020 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor and Francis Group, LLC. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.