A Cognitive Analysis of Riding with Drinking Drivers in Emerging Adults

Duration: 2015 - 2017
Funding: National Institutes of Health (NIH) / National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Principal Investigator: Robert Turrisi

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While public health efforts have focused on reducing drunk drivers, by comparison less attention has been directed toward reducing passengers riding with drinking drivers (RWDD). Since passengers make up 16% percent of all alcohol-related vehicle fatalities, this indicates a significant gap in prevention research. Emerging adults are a high-risk group, with individuals aged 18-24 having the highest rates of fatalities due to alcohol-related crashes and highest rates of RWDD. Almost half of individuals aged 15-20 report having RWDD, making it imperative to understand predictors of RWDD to decrease preventable deaths in young people.

This project utilized the large and diverse sample of 1600 student-parent dyads in Robert Turrisi’s longitudinal, multi-site study examining parent influences on student drinking (Project PACT R01 AA012529). While the main objective of PACT was to examine associations between parents and student drinking and consequences, the proposed research extended this work by building on a research program examining both student and parental predictors of emerging adult college student RWDD.

To this extent the aims were to:

1) examine multivariate and theory-based proximal, distal and contextual predictors of RWDD using a multisite sample of emerging adult college students, and

2) use both multivariate and person-centered approaches to examine theoretically-based predictors of parental communication of RWDD risk and the association between this communication and student RWDD attitudes, parental norms, and image prototype.

The results of the research will identify individuals who are at the greatest risk for RWDD and inform prevention efforts about the best ways of intervening to reduce injuries and fatalities.

Project Team