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A systematic review of intervening to prevent driving while intoxicated

In: Substance Use & Misuse, 51, 104-112.

Authors: Lisa Buckley, Rebekah L. Chapman, Ioni Lewis

Background: Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a significant public health issue. The likelihood someone will intervene to prevent DWI is affected by the characteristics of the individuals and the context of the potential driving scenario. Understanding such contexts may help tailor public health messages to promote intervening from those who are nearby to an intoxicated driver.

Objective: This systematic review investigates the behavior of those close to an intoxicated driver and factors associated with increasing the likelihood they will intervene in situations where driving while impaired may be likely. The review of the literature is guided by an orienting framework, namely the classic social psychology theory of decision-making proposed by Latané and Darley.

Results: Drawing upon this framework, the review examines the extent to which research has focused on factors which influence whether or not an individual identifies a need to intervene and identifies a seriously dangerous situation. In addition, consideration is given to perceived personal responsibility. The final two components of the model are then discussed; the perceived skill an individual who may intervene has (in their ability to intervene) and their actual enactment of the intervening behavior.

Conclusions and Importance: Drawing upon such a well-considered theoretical framework, this review provides guidance on key components likely to assist in the development of targeted, more effective public education messages and campaigns that dissuade individuals from drinking and then driving.