Prevalence of impaired driving behaviors in a diverse, rural, southern middle school.Accid Anal Prev 2007; 39(6):1080-7AA
Little research has been reported on the risky behaviors of pre-driving adolescents revolving around alcohol use, in particular impaired driving behaviors, which in general have been shown to be higher in rural areas. This study investigated the prevalence of drinking while driving and riding with a drinking driver among 290 middle school students in a Mississippi Delta area middle school. Just under half (45.3%) responded that at least once in the past 30 days they had ridden with a drinking driver and 17% indicated they had driven an automobile after drinking alcohol. The prevalence of underage drinking, driving under the influence of alcohol, and riding with a drinking driver among our sample of middle school students is alarming. This study shows alcohol-related driving behaviors are not solely performed by those who are legally licensed to drive, but simply by those who have access to vehicles. The authors recommend that prevention programs focusing on reducing the incidence of impaired driving should start in early adolescence.