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Traffic Inj Prev. 2014;15(2):119-24. doi: 10.1080/15389588.2013.803221.

Correlates of drug use and driving among undergraduate college students.

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a Injury Prevention Center , Connecticut Children's Medical Center/Hartford Hospital , Hartford , Connecticut.



Drug use by drivers is a significant and growing highway safety problem. College students are an important population to understand drugged driving. The objective of this study was to examine correlates of drugged driving among undergraduate college students.


We conducted an anonymous, confidential, 24-question survey at a large New England public university during the 2010-2011 academic year among undergraduates in courses that met a graduation requirement. Data include demographics; academics; housing status; lifestyle; personal values; high school/college drug use; and driving following alcohol use, drug use, or both; and as a passenger with a driver who used alcohol, drugs, or both. Descriptive statistics were calculated. Chi-square tests compared driver alcohol use, drug use, or both with demographic, academic, and lifestyle variables. Logistic regression analyses were performed with drugged driving as the dependent variable. Odds ratios and corresponding 95 percent confidence intervals were calculated for each of the potential explanatory variables in relation to the outcome.


Four hundred forty-four of 675 students completed surveys (66% participation rate). Participants were representative of the student body with a mean age of 19.4 (±1.3 years), 51 percent male, 75 percent white, and 10 percent Hispanic. Seventy-eight percent lived on campus, 93 percent had a driver's license, and 37 percent had access to a car. Students disagreed that cannabinoids impair driving (18%) compared to other drugs (17%), stimulants (13%), depressants (11%), hallucinogens (8%), and alcohol (7%). Twenty-three percent drove after alcohol use and 22 percent drove after drug use. Forty-one percent reported having been a passenger with a driver who had been drinking and 37 percent with a driver using drugs. Drugged driving was more likely among males vs. females (30% vs. 14%, P < .01), those living off campus (34% vs. 19%, P < .01), those reporting that parties are important (33% vs. 14%, P < .01), those reporting that community service is not important (28% vs. 18%, P < .05), those reporting that religion is not important (28% vs. 14%, P < .01), and those reporting personal drug use in high school (75% vs. 14%, P < .01) and well as that their best friends used drugs in high school (42% vs. 12%, P < .01) and college (50% vs. 8%, P < .01). Those factors most associated with drugged driving included using drugs in high school (odds ratio [OR] = 9.5, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 4.6-19.6) and best friends in college used drugs regularly (OR = 6.2, 95% CI: 3.4-11.6).


Self-reported drugged driving and riding as a passenger with a drugged driver is common among subgroups of college students. The identification of undergraduate subgroups at risk for drugged driving will guide the design and implementation of traffic safety activities.

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