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23 The characteristics of drug-impaired drivers in the United States
  1. Toni Rudisill
  1. Virginia University


Statement of Purpose Driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) is a burgeoning public health concern in the United States. Most studies have focused on the presence of drugs and/or alcohol among fatally injured drivers. Because little is known about individuals who actively drive drug-impaired, the purpose of this study was characterize the demographics and behaviors of these individuals.

Methods/Approach Data from the 2015–2017 National Survey of Drug Use and Health were analyzed. The study population was limited to drivers ≥18 years of age. The outcome was those who self-reported DUID in the past 12 months. Demographic and behavioral characteristics of those who drove drug-impaired vs. not drug impaired were compared via frequencies, percentages, binary and multivariable logistic regression analyses, which accounted for the survey design.

Results Among eligible respondents (N=118,741), 4.7% reported DUID (unweighted). DUID was highest among 18–25 year olds (9%), unmarried individuals (8%), non-heterosexuals (10%), those whom abused or were drug dependent (40%), engaged in risky behaviors (15%), and ever received treatment for substance use (15%). Those who were dependent on or abused marijuana (32%), heroin (53%), or methamphetamine (52%) reported DUID most frequently. After adjustment for key demographic and behavioral variables, males [odds ratio, OR=1.56; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.4, 1.7], those who abused or were dependent on drugs (OR=4.3; 95% CI 3.8, 4.8), exhibited the most risky behaviors (OR=3.7; 95% CI 3.0, 4.6), non-heterosexuals (OR=1.3; 95% CI 1.2, 1.5), and employed individuals (OR=1.3; 95% CI=1.2, 1.5) were more likely to engage in DUID.

Conclusions DUID was particularly common among some population sub-groups including young males, non-heterosexuals, employed individuals, and those who abused or were dependent on drugs. These groups may benefit from interventional measures.

Significance and Contribution to Injury and Prevention Science These findings may help direct future interventional efforts to mitigate DUID. Center.

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