Use of alcohol and cannabis among adults driving children in Washington state

Romano, Eduardo O. / Kelley-Baker, Tara / Hoff, Staci / Eichelberger, Angela H. / Ramirez, Anthony
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
March 2019

Objective: It is unknown how many drivers drink and drive with children. This study examines the prevalence and patterns of alcohol and cannabis use among drivers with children on weekend nights and risk perceptions among these drivers.
Methods: Data came from 2,056 drivers who participated in the Washington State Roadside Survey between June 2014 and June 2015. Oral fluid, blood, and breath samples were used to measure cannabis and alcohol use. Self-reported data were used to assess risk perceptions. Descriptive tabulations, weighted prevalence estimates, and chi-square tests were conducted.
Results: Compared with other drivers, those who drove with a child were more likely to be driving during the daytime (46.6% vs. 36.3%, p=.03), less likely to be alcohol-positive (0.2% vs. 4.5%, p<.0001), but as likely to be positive for delta-9-THC (14.1% vs. 17.7%, p=.29). Drivers with a child were less likely to report moderate to severe marijuana problems (3.3%) than those without a child (8.4%) (p<.02). Most drivers reported that cannabis use was very likely to impair driving. Among those who did not perceive any risk, 40.6% of drivers with a child and 28.9% of drivers without a child tested positive for delta-9-THC .
Conclusions: Although most drivers with children did not drink and drive, many tested positive for cannabis, although it is unclear how many drivers may have been impaired. There is a need to examine driving situations that may put children at risks beyond those related to alcohol.