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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2006 Jun 28;83(2):137-46. Epub 2005 Dec 20.

The prevalence of drinking and driving in the United States, 2001-2002: results from the national epidemiological survey on alcohol and related conditions.

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Laboratory of Biometry and Epidemiology, Division of Intramural Clinical and Biological Research, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institute of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-9304, United States.


Traffic deaths and injuries are among the most frequent causes of deaths and disability worldwide. In the United States, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that approximately 40% of all traffic fatalities were alcohol-related. Yet, information about the prevalence of drinking and driving behaviors of the U.S. general population is lacking. The purpose of this study was to examine the magnitude of driver-based (i.e., driving while drinking and driving after having too much to drink) and passenger-based (i.e., riding with a drinking driver and riding as a passenger while drinking) drinking and driving behaviors confronting contemporary America. The past-year prevalence data were stratified by major sociodemographic characteristics to identify important determinants of drinking and driving behaviors for further research. Data were derived from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC, n=43,093). In 2001-2002 there were 23.4 million, or 11.3%, of American adults who reported engaging in at least one of the four driver- or passenger-based drinking and driving behaviors. The prevalences of passenger-based drinking and driving behaviors were generally greater than those of the driver-based measures. For all four drinking and driving behaviors, age was inversely associated with the risk and males were at greater risk with the associated male-to-female ratios of approximately 3.0. Our data also suggested that Native Americans, individuals who were widowed/separated/divorced or never married, and those with greater than a high school education were also at greater risks of all drinking and driving behaviors.

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