This report summarizes the results of a highway safety impact evaluation of four underage drinking prevention programs in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), through the National Association of Governor’s Highway Safety Representatives
The four programs that are evaluated here began in the mid-1990s. This report briefly describes them and estimates their impact on surrogates of alcohol-related crashes. The programs and their locations were:
Three of the programs (SASY, PEM, and TCUDPP) emphasized public in-formation and education (PI&E) strategies, with the PEM program also including an active legislative component. Areas of major emphasis for these three programs were:
PEM - Omaha, Nebraska
TCUDPP - Travis County, Texas
None of these three programs was found to have an impact on surrogates of alcohol-related crashes involving underage drivers. However, it is possible that the available data were not sufficient for detecting such an impact in some of the jurisdictions studied, especially in light of the small number of youth-involved traffic crashes that occurred in some jurisdictions. Also, it is possible that other positive effects not reflected in alcohol-related crashes may have occurred (for example, better coordination between community partners, increased awareness of the youth drinking problem, or reductions in youth drinking). The measurement of such effects goes beyond analyses of archival crash data, for example, relying on surveys of self-reported drinking practices and, sometimes, involving the analyses of other data such as that contained in special studies of crash victims admitted to hospital trauma centers.
The fourth program (SLCUDPP - Salt Lake County, Utah) emphasized enforcement of laws prohibiting sales of alcoholic beverages to underage youth, supported by youth peer programs. Other areas addressed by this program were:
This program had a possible impact that increased with time starting about a year after program initiation. The number of nighttime crashes involving an underage driver gradually decreased in the program’s jurisdiction (Salt Lake County, Utah), with the decrease amounting to about 20 crashes per month (about 14%) at three years after program initiation (p=0.10).
These findings suggest that, to have an alcohol-crash impact on the target group in the short-range future, PI&E alone is insufficient and that initiatives aimed at reducing the availability of alcoholic beverages, and/or at deterring driving after drinking, may be necessary. Similar findings with respect to drinking-drivers in general have been reported elsewhere (Jones and Lacey, 2001; Wagenaar, Murray, and Toomey, 2000).