Although drunk driving is a violent crime that leaves many dead or permanently disabled, driving impaired with a child in the vehicle is not typically acknowledged as child endangerment or abuse. Child-endangerment laws are intended to protect children from those who would physically or emotionally abuse them, as well as those who victimize children by putting them in the way of harm. Driving impaired and/or recklessly with a child in the car falls under this definition, and it is a serious problem. The proposed study aims to go beyond observing general prevalence rates and begin to examine the characteristics of drivers who endanger children due to alcohol impairment, but also extend our examination to reckless/aggressive driving. Most significantly, this study will begin to examine child endangerment policies. Currently, several states have laws that at least notionally address child endangerment by impaired drivers, but little has been done to examine their effectiveness. Specifically the aims of this study are to:
Aim 1 : Identify situations and characteristics of alcohol-positive drivers who are involved in crashes while transporting young passengers.
Aim 2 : Identify cases where young passengers are killed or injured by drivers displaying a set of behaviors typically defined as reckless and/or aggressive and examine the prevalence of such occurrences and the characteristics of the drivers.
Aim 3 : Explore the possible effectiveness of current child-endangerment laws relating to DUI across states.

Public Health Relevance

Child endangerment by impaired drivers is a neglected problem that injures more than 47,000 children a year. Beyond alcohol-related motor-vehicle injuries and fatalities are those related to reckless and/or aggressive driving. How many children are affected by these events is currently unknown. Policymakers'reaction to this problem has been tentative because of our limited understanding of those creating the problem. With unfocused countermeasures and prevention efforts, we have been limited in our ability to evaluate these responses. In this proposed study, we will begin to address these limitations, paving the road for the design of better (more efficient) countermeasures.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAA1-DD (02))
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Bloss, Gregory
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Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation
United States
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Kelley-Baker, Tara; Romano, Eduardo (2016) An Examination of the Effectiveness of Child Endangerment Laws in Preventing Child Fatalities in Alcohol-Involved Motor Vehicle Crashes. J Stud Alcohol Drugs 77:828-33
Romano, Eduardo; Kelley-Baker, Tara (2015) Child passengers injured in motor vehicle crashes. J Safety Res 52:1-8
Thomas, Sue; Kelley-Baker, Tara; Romano, Eduardo et al. (2014) Transporting Young Passengers While Impaired: The State of the Law. Health Behav Policy Rev 1:265-277
Kelley-Baker, Tara; Romano, Eduardo (2014) Child passengers killed in reckless and alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes. J Safety Res 48:103-10