Academic journal article College Student Journal

Screening for Impaired Driving Risk among College Students

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Screening for Impaired Driving Risk among College Students

Article excerpt

This study tested the Impaired Driving Screening (IDS) instrument to identify college students at risk for impaired driving. Of the 782 undergraduates screened, 35% used alcohol, 8.6% binge drank, 27.5% recently drove after drinking, and 32.7% rode with an impaired driver. The IDS classified 57.9% students as Low Risk, 26.2% as Moderate Risk, and 15.9% as High Risk for continued impaired driving and negative consequences. High Risk students used alcohol 12.5 days, drove after drinking 10.5 times, and drove with an impaired driver 6.8 times in the past month. They drove after drinking 10 times more and rode with an impaired driver twice as much as Moderate Risk. High Risk students were more likely to be male, Caucasian and binge drink than other students. A timeline followback interview, the Impaired Driving Assessment (IDA) was used to validate the IDS and is discussed as a useful prevention tool.


According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Fatal Accident Reporting System, there were over 16,000 deaths caused by alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 1997 (Anonymous, 1986). The relative risk for being involved in a motor vehicle crash is greater for younger than older drivers (Centers for Disease Control, 1995).

Alcohol is the number one drug-of-choice for the American college student as reported by the 1996 Core Institute Report (Presley, Meilman, and Cashin, 1996). The Core Institute Report and Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Anonymous, 1997) agreed that more than a quarter of college students surveyed drive after drinking. Driving after drinking among college students has also increased from 1994 to 1997 (Wechsler, Dowdall, Maenner, Gledhill-Hoyt, and Lee, 1998).

Students who were most likely to drink and drive were men who frequently binge drank (Wechsler, Davenport, Dowdall, Moekens, and Castillo, 1994). Although women engaged in less overall driving after drinking, there was a positive relationship between binge frequency and driving after drinking. The importance of both risk assessment and prevention is obvious.

The purpose of this study was to assess the validity of an impaired driving risk screening instrument designed to characterize risk of students who might benefit from an individual impaired driving risk reduction intervention.



A sample of 782 undergraduate students from an urban university campus in the Southeast United States enrolled in Introduction to Psychology classes were recruited from all six sections during the Winter and Spring quarters of 1999. Those students who participated in the screening received credit for research participation. A more detailed timeline followback instrument, the Impaired Driving Assessment (IDA), was administered to 42 students who were at highest risk.


Two instruments were utilized in this study are available from the first and second authors: the Impaired Driving Screening (IDS) and the Impaired Driving Assessment (IDA). The IDS is a brief, 12 item, self-report, paper and pencil questionnaire that covers alcohol use, the frequency of drinking and driving, and being a passenger of a driver who had been drinking. The IDS takes approximately two minutes to complete. The IDA is a timeline followback interview method (TLFB), designed to collect detailed information about impaired driving and alcohol use behaviors per episode. The DA assesses three additional variables: drinking days in the past 30, drinks per impaired driving episode, and estimated blood alcohol level per drinking and driving episode. The TLFB procedure has been demonstrated to be a reliable and valid measurement of alcohol consumption (Sobell, Maisto, Sobell, Cooper, 1979; Sobell and Sobell, 1992), but has not yet been applied to the assessment of drinking and driving behaviors. …

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