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Open Access Research article

Correlation between driving-related skill and alcohol use in young-adults from six European countries: the TEN-D by Night Project

Roberta Siliquini1*, Fabrizio Bert1, Francisco Alonso2, Paola Berchialla1, Alessandra Colombo1, Axel Druart3, Marcin Kedzia4, Valeria Siliquini5, Daniel Vankov6, Anita Villerusa7, Lamberto Manzoli8 and TEN-D Group (TEN-D by Night Group)

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Public Health, University of Turin, Italy

2 INTRAS, Universitat de València-UVEG, Spain

3 Responsible Young Drivers, Brussels, Belgium

4 Prezes Fundacji "Kierowca Bezpieczny", Warsaw, Poland

5 S&T soc. coop., Turin, Italy

6 Open Youth, Sofia, Bulgaria

7 Dep. of Public Health and Epidemiology, Riga Stradins University, Latvia

8 Section of Epidemiology and Public Health, University "G. d'Annunzio" of Chieti, Italy

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:526  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-526

Published: 1 July 2011

Abstract

Background

Only few studies with small experimental samples investigated the impact of psychoactive substances on driving performance. We conducted a multicenter international cross-sectional study to evaluate the correlation between alcohol use and driving-related skill as measured by brake reaction time (RT).

Methods

Before and after the entrance into randomly selected recreational sites from six European countries, all subjects aged 16-35 years, owning a driver license, were asked to compile a structured socio-demographic questionnaire and measure RT (SimuNomad3 driving simulator), breath alcohol concentration (BAC; Drager Alcoltest), and drug use (Oratect III saliva test, only at the exit). Mixed regression modeling was used to evaluate the independent association between RT and alcohol concentration or drug use.

Results

Before the entrance into the recreational site, 4534 subjects completed all assessments and composed the final sample. Their mean age was 23.1 ± 4.2y; 68.3% were males; 54.7% had BAC > 0 g/L (assumed alcoholics); 7.5% declared illegal drug assumption (mostly cannabis). After the exit, 3019 also completed the second assessment: 71.7% showed BAC > 0 g/L. Controlling for age, gender, educational level, occupation, driver license years, and drug use, BAC was positively associated with RT, achieving significance, however, only when BAC was higher than 0.49 g/L. Significant interaction terms were found between BAC and female gender or drug use, with highest RTs (> 1 sec.) recorded among drug users with BAC > = 1 g/L.

Conclusions

This field study confirms previous experimental data on the negative impact of alcohol use on driving-related skill, supporting regulations and educational campaigns aimed at discouraging driving after consumption of psychoactive substances.