Hazards Faced by Young Designated Drivers: In-Car Risks of Driving Drunken Passengers
PROBLEM By numerous accounts, alcohol abuse is considered the number one drug problem facing young people today. Alcohol consumption and its negative consequences, especially those due to drinking and driving, continue to have devastating effects on the college student population. METHOD This field study examined the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels of male and female designated drivers (DD), non-DD, and their respective passengers as they were leaving drinking establishments in a university town. Also investigated were the effects of group size and gender on DD use. RESULTS A 2 Gender x 2 Driver type (DD vs. non-DD) analysis of variance (ANOVA) for BAC indicated significant main effects for Gender and Driver type, with higher BAC for men and non-DD (p's<.001). A significant Gender x Driver type interaction (p<.05) was primarily due to female DD having lower BAC than male DD. In addition, larger groups were more likely to have a DD. IMPACT ON INDUSTRY Results indicate that the success of DD programs may be influenced by group size and a DD's gender. While larger groups are more likely to have a DD, students riding home with a male DD may still be at risk for the negative consequences of drunk driving.