Surveys of drivers and pedestrians to measure drinking levels

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, Pa., and Morgantown, W.V., 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, Pa., decreases during the intervention period compared to nonintervention periods.

Starting this past weekend (April 10), University research teams began conducting periodic, late-night roadside surveys of randomly selected drivers at locations across State College, Pa. The voluntary surveys involved 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 does not display the BAC results on site. Rather, the data is 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 also will be conducting similar breath-test surveys of pedestrians walking through State College, Pa., in order to measure attitudes and knowledge about drinking and driving.

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Last Updated April 13, 2010