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Effects of a college community campaign on drinking and driving with a strong enforcement component

McCartt, Anne T.; Hellinga, Laurie A.; Wells, JoAnn K.
Traffic Injury Prevention (TIP)
March 2009

Objectives: A program of publicized intensive enforcement of minimum drinking age law and drinking and driving laws was implemented in a college community. The effects on driving at various blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) were evaluated, particularly for drivers ages 16-24 targeted by the program.
Methods: Objective measures of driver BACs were collected through nighttime roadside surveys before and during the program in the experimental college community and a comparison college community. Logistic regression models estimated the program’s effects on the likelihood of driving at various BAC thresholds in the program community, after accounting for BAC patterns in the comparison community.
Results: relative to the comparison community, consistent reductions in driving at various BAC levels (positive BAC and BAC at least 0.02, 0.05, or 0.08%) were achieved in the experimental community. Reductions were greatest for 16- to 20-year olds (from 66% for positive BAC to 94% for BAC = 0.05%), followed by 21- to 24- year olds (from 32% for positive BAC to 71% for BAC =0.08%) and drivers 25 and older (from 23% for positive BAC to 53% for BAC = 0.08%). All reductions for 16- to 20-year-olds were significant (p < 0.05), and all except the reduction for BAC = 0.08 percent were significantly greater than the corresponding reductions for drivers 25 and older. Reductions for 21- to 24-year-olds were significant for BACs at least 0.02, 0.05, and 0.08 percent, but they were not significantly greater than the corresponding reductions for drivers 25 and older. Although large, reductions for drivers 25 and older were not significant, based on 95 percent confidence intervals.
Conclusions: A college community program with a strong enforcement component produced substantial reductions in drinking and driving among teenagers and young adults and smaller reductions among older adults. It is hoped that this will encourage colleges and communities to incorporate enforcement into interventions directed at alcohol use among young people.