A successful high-visibility enforcement intervention targeting underage drinking drivers

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Abstract

Aims

To measure the effectiveness of a high-visibility enforcement campaign to reduce rates of underage drinking and driving.

Design

Mixed-model analysis compares rates of drinking and driving (1) between the baseline and intervention period and (2) between the baseline and follow-up period. The impact of the intervention was evaluated using roadside surveys and web surveys.

Setting

Two college-town communities in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

Participants

Study participants consisted of 6825 drivers stopped, interviewed and breathalyzed on weekend nights. Web survey data were collected from 2061 students from large state universities in each community.

Intervention

Increased high-visibility enforcement of drinking and driving laws, featuring the use of passive alcohol sensors by police, along with a coordinated publicity campaign.

Measures

Roadside surveys measured breath alcohol concentrations (BrAC) of drivers. The web surveys measured self-reported drinking.

Findings

Mixed-model analysis revealed a statistically significant reduction in drivers with BrACs ≥ 0.08 g/dl during the intervention and follow-up periods, F(2, 5744) = 6.5, P < 0.01. The web-survey revealed that students under age 21 also reported significantly less driving after drinking during the intervention and follow-up periods, F(2, 1767) = 4.6, P < 0.01.

Conclusions

A high-visibility enforcement campaign targeting underage drinking and driving appeared to reduce both underage driving after drinking among US college students as well as drunk driving (breath alcohol concentration ≥ 0.08 g/dl) at any age.

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