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Drinking behaviors in young adults: the potential role of designated driver and safe ride home programs
  1. Frederick P Rivara2,
  2. Annemarie Relyea-Chew1,
  3. Jin Wang2,
  4. Suzette Riley2,
  5. Deanne Boisvert3,
  6. Tony Gomez3
  1. 1Departments of Radiology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington DC, USA
  2. 2Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, Seattle, Washington DC, USA
  3. 3Public Health-Seattle & King County, Seattle, Washington DC, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr F P Rivara
 Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, Box 359960, 325 Ninth Avenue, Seattle, WA 91804, USA; fpr{at}


Objectives: To determine the drinking and driving habits reported in people aged 21–34 years.

Design: Random digit dialing survey.

Setting: Seattle and Spokane, Washington; Portland, Oregon.

Participants: 917 individuals aged 21–34 years, who had a valid driver’s license, who had consumed at least one alcoholic drink in the last year and who lived in Seattle, Spokane or Portland.

Outcome measures: Driving after drinking, use of a designated driver and serving as a designated driver.

Results: 62% drank alcohol at least weekly, and 31% binged at least once per month in the last year. 21% drove after drinking too much in the last month. Two-thirds of individuals reported being a designated driver at least once in the last year, and in most instances, this had been decided before the group went out for the evening. Over three-quarters of individuals reported that they drank less than they usually do the last time they were a designated driver. When using a designated driver, almost half of the individuals reported drinking more on that occasion than usual, with approximately half of those having at least three more drinks than usual.

Conclusions: These results point to the need for interventions to combat the problem of drunk driving and prevent its associated morbidity and mortality. Rigorous evaluation of the effect of designated driver and safe ride home programs are needed.

  • RDD, random digit dialing

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  • Competing interests: None.