Objective: Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among young people. Recognition of the contribution of impulsive behaviour may help novice drivers to behave more safely. Previously a brief intervention focusing on impulsive traffic behaviour conducted by psychologists in driving schools had been effective. The aim of this study was an independent re-evaluation of the effect of the intervention, as conducted by driving school teachers, and assessment of the potential associations with candidate genotypes.
Methods: Driving school students (mean age 22.5, SD=7.9) were divided into intervention (n=704) and control (n=737) groups. Driving school teachers were trained to administer the intervention which consisted of a lecture and group work (1.5 h in total) on impulsivity. Traffic offences and crashes were monitored during 3 years, using police and traffic insurance fund databases. Functional polymorphisms of the dopamine transporter (DAT) and serotonin transporter genes (DAT1 VNTR and 5-HTTLPR) were assessed.
Results: The intervention significantly lowered general traffic risk and prevalence of traffic accidents. DAT1 VNTR 9R carriers, particularly males, had higher general traffic risk in the whole sample. Female 5-HTTLPR s' allele carriers of the intervention group had the lowest general traffic risk. Intervention was most effective in female DAT1 VNTR 10R/10R homozygotes.
Conclusions: Brief impulsivity-centred intervention appears as a promising strategy for preventing risk-taking behaviour in novice drivers and can be fully integrated to driving school curriculum.
Keywords: dopamine; genotype; humans; impulsive behaviour; serotonin.