Prevention of Alcohol-Related Motor Vehicle Crashes: Logic Model Documentation

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Alcohol-Related Motor Vehicle Crashes Causal Model Documentation





Prevention of Alcohol-Related

Motor Vehicle Crashes:

Logic Model Documentation



Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE)

11720 Beltsville Drive, Suite 900


Calverton, MD 20705
Tel: (301) 755-2700
Fax: (301) 755-2799
February 8, 2008

Contributing authors (in alphabetical order):

Johanna D. Birckmayer, Ph.D., M.P.H., Renée I. Boothroyd, Ph.D., M.P.H.,

Karen B. Friend, Ph.D., Harold D. Holder, Ph.D., and Robert B. Voas, Ph.D.

The Logic Models here are a work in progress; no Logic Model is ever complete or final. The goal of this Logic Model is to document the best available research evidence as well as identify gaps or areas in our understanding which need further study or replication in future research. These documents are presented freely for the use of prevention researchers and prevention practitioners, and can be downloaded and reprinted as desired.


PIRE respectively requests that any uses or distributions of these documents in part or in whole give credit to the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, Calverton, MD.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents ii

I. Definition 1

Alternative Measurements or Indicators 1

II. Alcohol-Related Motor Vehicle

Crash Causal Model 7

III. Documentation of Intermediate Variables,


Relationships, and Prevention Strategies 8

Driving After Drinking 10

Community Norms about Drinking and Driving 20

Perceived Risk of DUI Arrest 27

Public Awareness of Drinking-and-Driving Enforcement 33

DUI Enforcement 36

Community Activism About DUI Enforcement 43

DUI Enforcement 44

Drinking 47

Drinking and Driving 53

Alcohol Serving and Sales Practices 57

Alcohol Sales and Service—Regulations, Enforcement, and Sanctions 63

Retail Availability 70

Price 78


Community Norms About Drinking 85

Promotion 93

Drinking Context 98

Social Availability 102

Individual Factors 107

IV. References 110





I.Definition

An alcohol-related motor vehicle crash is any traffic crash in which at least one driver had been drinking before the crash. Approximately 41% of traffic fatalities result from drinking and driving per year. In 1999, approximately 2.2 million crashes in the United States involved alcohol. Almost 17,000 people die from alcohol-related crashes each year.


Alcohol-Associated Traffic Fatalities. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injury deaths in the United States, and their incidence appears to be rising. In 1994, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA, 1995b) registered about 6,490,000 police-reported traffic crashes, of which 36,223 involved one or more fatalities. A total of 41,798 deaths from motor vehicle crashes were reported in 1995 (NHTSA, 1996) and 42,815 in 2002 (NHTSA, 2003).

The number of alcohol-attributable motor vehicle crashes and fatalities declined during the previous decade. NHTSA (2000) reported a 29% decrease in alcohol-related deaths between 1992 and 1999. This drop is consistent with the reduction in alcohol consumption and with increased publicity and enforcement of drinking-and-driving policies in the United States (Greenfield & Henneberg, 2001; Grube & Stewart, 2004; Hingson, Heeren, & Winter, 1999; Office of Applied Studies, 2000).


Alternative Measurements or Indicators

Alternative 1


Percentage of Fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes That Are Alcohol Related

Justification


Approximately 2.2 million crashes in the United States involved alcohol in 1999. Approximately 41% of traffic fatalities result from drinking and driving. Almost 17,000 people die from alcohol-related crashes each year. Alcohol-related traffic crashes remain the single greatest cause of death among youths and young adults.

Definition

Percentage of fatal motor vehicle crashes (i.e., in which at least one person died) in which at least one driver, pedestrian, or cyclist had been drinking (blood alcohol concentration [BAC] >0.00).

Numerator = Annual number of fatal crashes involving
alcohol
Denominator = Annual number of fatal crashes

Data Sources


Crash data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), NHTSA, and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)

(numerator and denominator)

Frequency


Annual

Geographic Levels


National, state, and county

Demographic Categories


Not applicable

Strengths


Data on fatal traffic crashes have been systematically collected by NHTSA for many years in every state (though states vary in the number of years in which they have participated in FARS).

Limitations


Although considerable effort has been made to obtain the BAC values for all drivers involved in fatal crashes, these data are not complete. NHTSA has therefore estimated the drivers’ BACs for cases missing data. The stability of this indicator is directly related to the size of the population in which these fatal crashes occurred. This indicator may therefore be unstable for states that are less populated and for counties that have low numbers of annual fatal crashes.

Alternative 2

Alcohol-Related Vehicle Death Rate

Justification


Approximately 2.2 million crashes in the United States involved alcohol in 1999. Approximately 41% of traffic fatalities resulted from drinking and driving. Almost 17,000 people die from alcohol-related crashes each year. Alcohol-related traffic crashes remain the single greatest cause of death among youths and young adults.

Definition


Number of vehicle deaths in which at least one driver, pedestrian, or cyclist had been drinking (BAC >.00) per 1,000 population.

Numerator = Annual number alcohol-related vehicle deaths
Denominator = Total resident population for same calendar year

Data Sources


Number of alcohol-related vehicle deaths from FARS, NHTSA, U.S. DOT (numerator). Population estimates from the U.S. Bureau of the Census (denominator).

Frequency


Annual

Geographic Levels


National, state, and county

Demographic Categories


Age by gender (of persons killed)

Strengths


Data on fatal traffic crashes have been systematically collected by NHTSA for many years in every state (though states vary in the number of years in which they have participated in FARS).

Limitations

Although considerable effort has been made to obtain the BAC values for all drivers involved in fatal crashes, these data are not complete. NHTSA has therefore estimated drivers’ BACs for cases missing data. The stability of this indicator is directly related to the size of the population in which these deaths occur. This indicator may therefore be unstable for states that are less populated and for counties that have low numbers of annual vehicular deaths, especially when used for demographic subgroups.



Alternative 3


Percentage of Alcohol-Involved Drivers Among All Drivers in Fatal Crashes

Justification


Approximately 2.2 million crashes in the United States involved alcohol in 1999. Approximately 41% of traffic fatalities resulted from drinking and driving per year. Almost 17,000 people die from alcohol-related crashes each year. Alcohol-related traffic crashes remain the single greatest cause of death among youth and young adults.

Definition


Percentage of drivers involved in fatal crashes (i.e., in which at least one person died) who were found to have BACs >0.00.

Numerator = Annual number of alcohol-involved drivers
in crashes in which at least one person died
Denominator = Annual number of drivers in crashes in which
at least one person died

Data Sources


Driver data from FARS, NHTSA, U.S. DOT (numerator and denominator)

Frequency

Annual

Geographic Levels


National, state, and county

Demographic Categories


Age by gender (of driver)

Strengths


Data on fatal traffic crashes have been systematically collected by NHTSA for many years in every state (though states vary in the number of years in which they have participated in FARS).

Limitations


Although considerable effort has been made to obtain the BAC values for all drivers involved in fatal crashes, these data are not complete. NHTSA has therefore estimated drivers’ BACs for cases missing data. The stability of this indicator is directly related to the size of the population in which these deaths occur. This indicator may therefore be unstable for states that are less populated and for counties that have low numbers of fatal crashes, especially when used for demographic subgroups.



Alternative 4


Single-Vehicle Nighttime Crashes

Justification


Research has demonstrated that drivers who are on the road later at night have an increased probability of having been drinking. When a nighttime driver is involved in a crash that only involves his or her vehicle (no pedestrians, no other vehicles, and no animals), the probability that this driver is impaired by alcohol is very high.

Definition


In published research, single-vehicle nighttime (SVN) crashes are frequently used as an indicator to evaluate alcohol policies seeking to reduce traffic crashes (19, 20). SVN crashes occur between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. and involve only one motorized vehicle. This surrogate has been used in several studies (Hingson, 1987) regarding drunk-driving laws. Heeren, Smith, Morelock, and Hingson (1985) have shown that, for fatal crashes, the SVN measure is closely related to alcohol-related crashes involving drivers with known BACs. For other surrogates (all crashes at nighttime and all crashes involving injury), this measure is relatively conservative. Although crashes with drinking drivers (as reported by the investigating officer) may be a more sensitive indicator of the influence of an enforcement program, use of this surrogate runs the risk of incorporating a measurement error in the analysis. Hence, the officer’s judgment regarding drinking could be influenced by the training provided as part of the program and/or by the special breath-sensing equipment used in program operations.

As an adjunctive measure, SVN injury crashes can be used as an alternative surrogate to screen SVN crashes to those in which there was at least one injury. Thus, an alternative indicator is the frequency of SVN injury-producing crashes. Injury-producing crashes are those in which at least one vehicle occupant was killed or disabled or received a nondisabling injury, as reported by the police officer at the scene of the crash. Minor (i.e., possible) injuries are typically excluded.

Other surrogates have been used by some investigators, such as all nighttime fatal crashes or drinking-driver crashes if noted on the crash report form by the police officer. Studies based on a significant number of fatal crash drivers who have been tested for BAC levels can provide data on the number of drinking drivers in all alcohol-involved crashes. If the number of drivers in fatal crashes is small (as is often the case for community studies), it is necessary to use crashes with no fatalities where BAC measurement is less frequent. The measure preferred by most traffic researchers, however, is SVN crashes (i.e., those with only one moving vehicle and occurring between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m.).

Data Sources


Each state maintains a computer-based electronic file of every motor vehicle crash. Each record contains sufficient information to develop this indicator.

Frequency


Can be developed as often as hourly or as infrequently as annually.

Geographic Levels


Any desired level, down to the local street or neighborhood.

Demographic Categories


Available for all categories as defined for research or evaluation purposes.
Strengths

Previous research has demonstrated that a high proportion of SVN crashes involve a driver who had been drinking alcohol. Consequently, use of SVN crashes as a surrogate for alcohol involvement has become standard practice in the traffic crash studies field (Hereen et al., 1985) and has been used successfully in previous policy evaluation research (Wagenaar & Holder, 1991; Hingson et al., 1987).

It has been well established that alcohol is more likely to be involved in crashes that occur at night, particularly on weekend nights, and that single-vehicle crashes are more likely to be alcohol related than other crashes. We will therefore use SVN crashes, a commonly accepted surrogate for alcohol involvement. This category has been shown to include a significant number of alcohol-involved drivers (Richman, 1985; Mounce, Pendleton, & Gonzales, 1988; Hingson et al., 1987) and is sensitive to changes in alcohol use and availability in studies of minimum purchase age (MPA; Wagenaar, 1986a, 1986b), changes in spirits availability (Blose & Holder, 1987), changes in beverage server liability (Wagenaar & Holder, 1991), and changes in patterns of alcohol sales (Gruenewald, Miller, & Treno, 1993a).

Limitations

Obviously, some SVN crashes do not involve alcohol, and some alcohol-involved crashes are not included in the SVN definition. Nonetheless, the classification errors are constant over time, making the SVN indicator most useful for assessing changes over time.



Alternative 5


Police-Reported Alcohol-Involved Crashes

Justification


In most states, the forms used for recording traffic crashes contain a blank for the police office investigating the crash to record if, in his judgment, one or more of the drivers in the crash had been drinking. This judgment may be based upon either formal testing with breathalyzers or simple observation. Thus this information is available and reported by most states as a part of their routine traffic safety reporting and is thus easily available.

Definition


Police report of a crash where at least one driver had been drinking. These are typically reported as alcohol-involved traffic crashes in the aggregate.

Data Sources


State traffic crash records

Frequency


Many states report the aggregate counts of alcohol-involved traffic crashes at least annually and sometimes monthly. Specific analyses would require a separate computer analyses of state crash files.

Geographic Levels

State level and sometimes county level

Demographic Categories


Any category can be obtained via separate computer runs on state crash records.

Strengths


The purpose of any surrogate is to facilitate evaluation of the population-level effects of prevention interventions; it is therefore reasonable to use these law enforcement reports when other data are not available. In practice, though underestimates of the actual level of alcohol involvement are typical, police reports often follow the same trends that are reflected in other more valid estimates of alcohol-involved traffic crashes.

Limitations

This indicator is clearly an underestimate of the number of crashes in which at least one drinking driver was involved (Miller & Blincoe, 1994). The ability of police officers to judge the nature of injuries is limited. Further, a substantial number of crash injuries are not reported to police, particularly the less-severe injuries. Officers also cautiously or conservatively report drivers, pedestrians, or pedalcyclists as having been drinking or as being under the influence. In the absence of test data, if the officer reports that he or she believes the person has been drinking or is under the influence, the crash is also classified as alcohol related.

Officers’ cautiousness is less a factor in fatal crashes, however, because every effort is made to obtain alcohol test results. For less severe crashes, though, the officer’s judgment is all that is available, so alcohol-related nonfatal crashes are almost certain to be considerably underestimated. Sometimes, though rare, an officer reports that a person has been drinking or is under the influence, but the alcohol test is negative. In these cases, the crash is not classified as alcohol related. Police reports can be used to derive an aggregate count of injured occupants (but not to identify specific injury patterns). In Texas, comparisons of police reports with toxicological test results revealed that, in 1983, only 33% of drivers with BACs of .10 or more had alcohol cited as a contributing factor in the crash, whereas the corresponding proportion in 1988 was 81%.

NHTSA developed a sophisticated statistical procedure to estimate the actual number of alcohol-related fatalities. The idea that a computerized statistical procedure can accurately make such estimates initially invited skepticism; however, NHTSA developed the procedure with the greatest care over many years. (This procedure was once again improved in 2002.) In Minnesota, for example, when the two procedures—NHTSA’s estimating procedure and the state’s procedure based on known data—were used, the estimate from NHTSA of the true percentage of alcohol-related fatalities was always higher than, but very close to, the state’s numbers (Minnesota Department of Public Safety, 2002).

This reporting problem is particularly troublesome for the least severe crashes (e.g., property-damage-only crashes) where police may be less attentive in the investigation and the reporting. In some communities, for example, police may not investigate property-damage-only crashes at all, relying instead on reports voluntarily filled out and submitted by the motorist(s); these reports are necessarily suspect regarding the role of alcohol. For nonfatal injury crashes, the reporting problem is less severe but still frequently yields a low estimate.

In the final analysis, trends observed in police-reported alcohol-involved crashes can vary both in the contribution of alcohol in crashes and in the reporting practices







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