Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and Other Drugs

Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol and other drugs is one of the most serious threats to the safety of college students. While alcohol poisoning deaths on campus may garner a lot of publicity, nearly 80 percent of the alcohol-related fatalities among college students are due to drunk driving.

DUI prevention on campus responds to large, sustained efforts and should be a priority in any comprehensive approach to alcohol and other drug prevention.

Driving and Alcohol

The risks of drunk driving for college students are profound. According to the the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism's 2002 report A Call to Action: Changing the Culture of Drinking at U.S. Colleges, 1,100 of the 1,400 alcohol-related college student deaths per year involve drinking and driving.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show that in 1998, more than two million of the nation's eight million college students drove under the influence of alcohol, and more than three million rode in a car with an intoxicated driver. The 2001 College Alcohol Study reported that 30 percent of college students who drank said they drove after drinking in the previous 30 days.

Driving and Other Drugs

Driving while under the influence of other drugs is just as hazardous as drunk driving, yet drugged driving is not addressed as frequently in campus prevention efforts. Likewise, there are few data specific to college student drugged driving. Data about drugged driving among general populations are troubling. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that more than 13 percent of people aged 12 and up drove while drugged in 2006; this is equal to almost 33 million people. The peak age of drugged driving is 22, with 32 percent of these college-age young adults driving while under the influence of other drugs.

Effective Prevention

Many campus administrators, prevention professionals, and community leaders recognize the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol and specifically address DUI as part of an environmental management approach to alcohol and other drug abuse prevention. Research shows this approach is working, as the number of people driving while intoxicated, and the number injured or killed by drunk drivers, is declining.

Because drugged driving is a significant problem with dire consequences, other drug and DUI prevention programming on campus can benefit from incorporating prevention and enforcement efforts specific to drugged driving.

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