A Longitudinal Examination of Decisions to Ride and Decline Rides with Drinking Drivers

Brittney A. Hultgren, Rob Turrisi, Kimberly A. Mallett, Sarah Ackerman, Mary E. Larimer, Denis McCarthy, Eduardo Romano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Riding with a drinking driver (RWDD) is a serious concern that leads to numerous preventable deaths every year. There is a significant gap in research on empirically tested predictors of RWDD that could be implemented in prevention efforts. College students are in need of such prevention efforts, as they have some of the highest rates of alcohol-related crash fatalities and may engage in RWDD more than their noncollege peers. This study utilized behavioral decision-making approach to examine predictors of RWDD and declining a ride from a drinking driver (Decline) in older college students. Methods: Students (n = 791) in their third year of college were enrolled from 3 large and diverse universities. Psychosocial (e.g., expectancies, norms) and decision-making variables (willingness to RWDD and intentions to use alternatives) were assessed in the fall of their third year. One year later, RWDD and Decline behaviors were assessed. Zero-inflated Poisson analyses were used to assess how decision-making variables predicted RWDD and Decline behavior. Associations between psychosocial and decision-making variables were also assessed. Results: Thirteen percent of students reported RWDD and ~28% reported Decline behavior. Willingness to RWDD and typical weekly drinking were both associated with increases in RWDD (odds ratio [OR] = 1.58 and 1.40, respectively), whereas intentions to use alternatives, sex, and ethnicity were not associated with RWDD. Only weekly drinking was associated with Decline, with an increase in drinking associated with increased Decline (OR = 1.48). All psychosocial variables were significantly associated with the decision-making variables except positive expectancies. Conclusions: Results provide evidence that willingness to RWDD is a predictor of future RWDD, even if students intend to use safe alternatives. Future research is needed to better understand decision-making factors that influence Decline. Results also suggest prevention and interventions efforts, such as brief motivational intervention, Parent-Based Interventions, and normative feedback interventions could be adapted to reduce RWDD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1748-1755
Number of pages8
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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