Informal Drunk Driving Intervention: Psychosocial Correlates Among Young Adult Women and Men1


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    This study was supported in part by grant number 2302 from the UCLA Academic Senate, grant DA 01070 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a grant from the Wine Institute and the Winegrowers of California, and a grant from the Alcoholic Beverage Medical Research Foundation. The authors especially appreciate the support of Elizabeth Holmgren of the Wine Institute. Dr. A. A. Pawlowski of the Research Foundation, and excellent manuscript preparation of Anntoinella Wilkie.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Dr. Michael D. Newcomb, Division of Counseling and Educational Psychology, WPH 500, University of Southern California, Los Angeles 90089–0031.


Based on experimental research on helping and survey findings on drunk driving intervention, we selected 28 variables for study that might relate to informal intervention in a drunk driving situation. We tested six hypotheses by categorizing the 28 variables into personal (12), relationship (4), situational (5), and individual response (7) aspects. Bivariate correlations and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed between these 28 predictor variables and intervention for 303 college students (192 females and 111 males). Three personal, one relationship, three situational, and four individual responses in situation variables were correlated significantly with intervention. Four significant predictors emerged in the stepwise logistic regression equation: knowing the driver well; having a conversation that encouraged the respondent to intervene; perceiving the driver as needing help; and the respondent's feeling able to intervene. All hypotheses received at least some confirmation in these results, but noteworthy discrepancies from expectations emphasize the need to appreciate differences between studies of helping behavior in the laboratory and this natural form of helping behavior.