Consideration of driver home county prohibition and alcohol-related vehicle crashes

Accid Anal Prev. 2003 Sep;35(5):641-8. doi: 10.1016/s0001-4575(02)00042-8.


This study examines the characteristics of alcohol-related crashes in wet versus dry counties in the state of Kentucky, USA and incorporates the location of driver residences through use of geographic information system (GIS) analysis. Between 1991 and 1997, 39344 alcohol-related crashes by Kentucky residents on Kentucky State roads were reported. The location of the crash and the home ZIP code from the driver's address were used to consider distance from home in the GIS. Analysis of the crash data revealed that a similar proportion of crashes in wet and dry counties are alcohol-related but that a higher proportion of dry counties residents are involved in an alcohol-related crash. However, when the distance from home variable is considered, several results suggest that dry county residents may be driving further when consuming alcohol. In part due to the rural nature of dry counties, drivers from dry counties have both alcohol-related and non-alcohol related crashes farther from their homes than residents from wet counties. Alcohol-related crashes by dry county residents in wet counties are the greatest average distance from home while crashes by wet county residents in wet counties are the smallest average distance. Drivers from dry counties over 21 years of age have alcohol-related crashes significantly farther from home than those under 21 who would not legally be admitted to drinking establishments in the wet counties. Furthermore, residents from dry counties that do not border wet counties have alcohol-related crashes on average farther from home than the border county residents. These last three results provide circumstantial evidence that some dry county drivers may be driving to wet counties to consume alcohol thus increasing impaired driving exposure. In conclusion, by considering crash location and driver residence, these findings indicate that county-level prohibition is not necessarily effective in improving highway safety.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Alcohol Drinking / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / epidemiology*
  • Automobile Driving / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Kentucky / epidemiology
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data
  • Temperance / statistics & numerical data