Etiology of Drinking and Driving among Adolescents: Implications for Primary Prevention

Knut Inge Klepp, Cheryl L. Perry, David R Jacobs Jr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


A prospective study was conducted to investigate what factors are predictive of self-reported drinking and driving (DD) among adolescents. The study employs a theoretical framework taken from Problem Behavior Theory; environmental, personality, and behavioral factors are explored for their predictability of DD. A cohort of 1482 high school students completed a written survey in spring of 1986 and again in fall of 1986. The findings confirm that Problem Behavior Theory provides a useful theoretical framework with which to identify etiological factors predictive of DD among adolescents. Identified personality, perceived environmental, behavioral, and demographic factors accounted for approximately 50% of the reported variance in DD at baseline. The same factors accounted for approximately 40% percent of the variance in follow-up DD and were predictive both among the students who did not drink and drive at baseline (incidence cases), and among those students who did drink and drive at baseline (continuation versus discontinuation of the behavior). Based on these etiological data, we recommend that school-based, peer-led educational prevention programs be designed to reach young adolescents prior to the age at which a driver's license is obtained. We further recommend that the programs be broad-based and consider DD within the larger context of drinking and driving related behaviors and traffic safety in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-427
Number of pages13
JournalHealth Education & Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1991


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