Academic journal article Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education

The Effectiveness of Fatal Vision Goggles: Disentangling Experiential versus Onlooker Effects

Academic journal article Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education

The Effectiveness of Fatal Vision Goggles: Disentangling Experiential versus Onlooker Effects

Article excerpt


This study provides the first empirical investigation of Fatal Vision Goggles as a prevention tool aimed at changing attitudes toward drinking and driving. College students (N = 163) were randomly assigned to three groups: A control group, a group wearing the goggles, and a group of onlookers who were observing those wearing the goggles. Attitudes toward drinking and driving were assessed immediately prior to and after the intervention. Results indicated that all groups became less accepting of attitudes toward drinking and driving, with the group wearing the goggles reporting significantly greater declines in these attitudes compared to the control group and the group of students who were onlookers. Implications of these results on the application of Fatal Vision Goggles are discussed.


Despite many preventative efforts, over 500,000 individuals are wounded in alcohol-related automobile accidents every year (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2002). According to a national survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2000), 10% of Americans admitted to driving while under the influence of alcohol within the previous year. In fatal crashes, 21-24 year-olds have the highest intoxication rates, and 15% of the 16-20 year-old drivers in fatal crashes were intoxicated (NHTSA, 2002). Additionally, recent research shows that children who begin drinking before the age of 16 were significantly more likely to engage in future drunk driving behavior than those who started drinking later (Hingson, Heeren, Zakocs, Winter, & Wechsler, 2003).

Several studies have examined programs specifically aimed at preventing drunk driving across the lifespan, yielding mixed results (see DeJong & Hingson, 1998 for a detailed review). McArthur and Kraus (1999) reviewed research that evaluated the effects of changes in legislation on drunk driving. Specifically, many states over the past several decades have passed "administration per se" laws that make it possible to immediately suspend the licenses of a driver who failed a sobriety test, regardless of the outcome of the following court proceedings. Research in this area compares drunk driving rates before and after the implementation of administration per se laws. McArthur and Kraus (1999) concluded these laws were effective at decreasing drunk driving in some states but not others. The effects of messages from the media on drunk driving rates have also yielded mixed results. For example, public information campaigns tend to be effective at increasing the knowledge of risks associated with drunk driving but are much less effective at: actually decreasing drunk driving behavior (DeJong & Hingson, 1998; Yanovitzky, 2002).

However, some preventative programs have been more successful at decreasing drunk driving behavior. Peek-Asa (1998) reviewed fourteen studies that demonstrated that the implementation of random alcohol screenings were followed by a period of decreased alcoholrelated injuries and fatalities. Similarly, Coben and Larkin (1999) reviewed six studies that evaluated the effectiveness of ignition interlock, in which the automobile's ignition -,viii lock if the driver provides a breath sample containing alcohol. Five of the six studies reported significantly decreased drinking and driving behavior. However, these studies focused on preventing drunk driving recidivism and may not be practical as a universal prevention strategy.

Some programs have targeted children and adolescents specifically to prevent drunk driving behavior before it ever occurs. For example, "shock films" have demonstrated mixed results in preventing drunk driving with teenagers (Kohn, Goodstadt, Cook, Sheppard, & Chan, 1982). Shock films typically portray the antecedents (e.g. drinking at a party) and consequences of a fatal automobile accident involving alcohol. Kohn et al. (1982) randomly assigned high school students to either view films depicting the consequences of a fatal automobile accident or a control film. …

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