Objective: This study examines associations between self-reported drinking and driving or being a passenger of a drinking driver and risk and protective factors in a general population of adolescents.
Method: We used a two-staged sampling procedure to survey 2,955 students in Washington State public schools in Grades 9-12. Students were asked if they were a passenger of, or had been, a drinking driver in the previous month. They were also asked about individual, parent, school and community risk and protective factors. Comparisons were made using hierarchical polychotomous logistic regression, entering age and gender and parent, school and community protective factors at the first step and individual risk factors at the second step.
Results: Driving after drinking in the previous month was reported by 12.1% of respondents and riding with a drinking driver was reported by an additional 17.6% of respondents. At the first step, driving after drinking was more likely and riding with a drinking driver was less likely among youth who were age 16 or older, and male students were more likely than female students to report driving after drinking. Parent, school and community support were each significantly associated with less driving after drinking, and school support was significantly associated with less riding with drinking drivers. At the second step, higher quantity and frequency of drinking, more smoking cigarettes and drug use and less seat belt use were each associated with both drinking and driving and riding with drinking drivers. Gun carrying was also associated with driving after drinking.
Conclusions: Drinking and driving behaviors were associated with risk and protective factors in the community, school, family and individual. Pilot prevention programs should test the effectiveness of reducing drinking and driving involvement by addressing such factors.