Changes in and predictors of driving after drug use and involvement in traffic crashes because of drugs, 1992–2005

  • Ralph W. Hingson
  • Wenxing Zha


This paper explores whether the proportions of U.S. adults who report driving after drug use and independent predictors of being in motor vehicle crashes under the influence of drugs have changed since 1991–1992. The National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey (NLAES) and National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) involved face-to-face interviews with, respectively, 42 862 and 43 092 adults ages 18 and older in 1991–1992 and 2001–2002.

In both surveys, 66 % ever drank alcohol, and 22 % ever drove after drinking too much. In NLAES and NESARC, 16 % and 21 % ever used drugs, and 6 % and 7 % ever drove after drug use, respectively. In NLAES, nearly 4 % were ever in a motor vehicle crash because of drinking, and 0.4 % because of drug use, the respective equivalents of 8.5 million and 1 million people. During the NLAES survey year, 44 % of respondents drank alcohol, 5 % drove after drinking too much, 5 % used drugs, and 1 % drove under the influence of drugs. In NESARC, the proportions were virtually identical.

NESARC re-interviewed 39 959 respondents in 2004–2005. One percent drove after drug use during the survey year, and one in five of them was in a crash while under the influence of drugs. Nineteen percent of those drivers were injured, and in 12 % of the crashes someone else was injured.

In NLAES and NESARC, the strongest predictor of motor vehicle crash involvement under the influence of drugs was whether respondents experienced drug dependence, followed by alcohol dependence. The strongest independent predictors of having ever experienced drug dependence were early age of first drinking alcohol and having experienced alcohol dependence.

Efforts to prevent drug-related motor vehicle crashes should include programs and policies that prevent and treat drug use as well as early alcohol use and alcohol dependence.


Motor Vehicle Crash Underage Drinking Drug Alcohol Depend Stud Alcohol Crash Involvement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag/Switzerland 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ralph W. Hingson
    • 1
  • Wenxing Zha
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Epidemiology and Prevention ResearchNational Institute on Alcohol Abuse and AlcoholismBethesdaUSA

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