Roadside Surveys of Drivers to measure drinking and driving levels in State College

April 7, 2010

Researchers at Penn State, West Virginia University, and the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) are collaborating on a research project titled “A Community-Based Zero Tolerance Program.” This five-year project, funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, is designed to address drinking and driving, particularly by people under 21 years old, in the State College, Pennsylvania, and Morgantown, West Virginia, communities.

In 2011, the research team will implement an intervention program that combines increased police enforcement of drinking and driving laws with widespread media publicity of the issue. The study will examine whether drinking and driving in State College decreases during the intervention period compared to nonintervention periods.

Starting in April 2010, University research teams will begin conducting periodic, late-night Roadside Surveys of randomly selected drivers at locations across State College. The voluntary surveys will involve a brief interview to measure attitudes and perceptions of drinking and driving, as well an anonymous breath test to measure blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of drivers. The breath test equipment used in the research will not display the BAC results on site. Rather, the data will be downloaded and analyzed later to help determine the rate of drinking and driving in the community. Eight such roadside surveys will be conducted in each of four years. The research team will also be conducting similar breath-test surveys of pedestrians walking through State College in order to measure attitudes and knowledge about drinking and driving.

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Editors: Aimee Read can be reached at alr22@psu.edu. For additional information, please contact the College of Health and Human Development Office of College Relations at 814-865-3831 or healthhd@psu.edu.