Efficacy of intervention at traffic schools reducing impulsive action, and association with candidate gene variants

Acta Neuropsychiatr. 2019 Jun;31(3):159-166. doi: 10.1017/neu.2019.2.


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.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / prevention & control*
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data
  • Alleles
  • Automobile Driving / education
  • Databases, Factual
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Female
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior*
  • Male
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Psychotherapy, Brief / methods
  • Psychotherapy, Group / methods
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*
  • Schools
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Sex Factors
  • Students / psychology
  • Young Adult


  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • SLC6A3 protein, human
  • SLC6A4 protein, human
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins