Driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) has become an issue of intense concern in the United States. The 2007 National Roadside Survey (NRS), conducted by members of our research team at PIRE, found that 16.3% of drivers tested positive for drugs - both licit and illicit - that have the potential to impair driving. The 2011 National Drug Control Strategy subsequently cited DUID as one of its top three policy priorities and proposed to reduce DUID by 10% by 2015. Although efforts to reduce DUID apply to drivers taking any drug with impairment potential, including prescription drugs, there are no estimates of how many of these drivers are taking drugs that are legitimately prescribed, the proportion of these drivers who have been given information on the impairment potential of their medications, and their perceived risk of impairment and/or arrest while using these medications. PIRE has been chosen by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to lead the 2013 NRS, presenting an outstanding opportunity to quickly and efficiently fill these gaps in knowledge regarding prescription drug-related DUID in a nationally representative sample of approximately 9,000 U.S. drivers from the 48 contiguous states. Specifically, this R21 application proposes a prescription drug survey supplement to the NRS that, along with the results of saliva testing for drugs already included in the NRS protocol, would facilitate fulfillment of the following research aims:
Aim 1 : Produce a detailed characterization of drivers who (a) use prescription medications that have the potential to impair driving, (b) have a prescription for the drug they are taking, an (c) take more of the drug than prescribed. We will estimate prevalence for these three categories and examine variation by gender, age, race/ethnicity, education, and income, as well as by driving behaviors, offense histories, and alcohol use.
Aim 2 : Determine how many of the drivers who took prescribed medications with impairment potential received a warning from their health care providers, pharmacy staff, or prescription warning labels regarding impaired driving. As with Aim 1, we will examine the association between receiving these warnings and drivers'demographics and other relevant characteristics.
Aim 3 : Examine drivers'perceptions regarding the likelihood that prescription drugs may (a) impair a person's ability to drive, and (b) increase the risk of arrest for impaired driving. The findings from this study will be applied to the development and testing of interventions designed to ensure that drivers who use prescription drugs with impairment potential understand both the public health and legal implications of their choice to drive.

Public Health Relevance

Reducing the prevalence of driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) is a national public health priority. This study will provide information on the prevalence of driving under the influence of legitimately prescribed drugs, assess drivers'knowledge and understanding of their medications'impairment potential, and contribute to the development of effective interventions to improve prescription drug users'knowledge of the public health and legal implications of impaired driving.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Behavioral Genetics and Epidemiology Study Section (BGES)
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Obrien, Moira
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Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation
United States
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Pollini, Robin A; Waehrer, Geetha; Kelley-Baker, Tara (2017) Receipt of Warnings Regarding Potentially Impairing Prescription Medications and Associated Risk Perceptions in a National Sample of U.S. Drivers. J Stud Alcohol Drugs 78:805-813
Kelley-Baker, Tara; Waehrer, Geetha; Pollini, Robin A (2017) Prevalence of Self-Reported Prescription Drug Use in a National Sample of U.S. Drivers. J Stud Alcohol Drugs 78:30-38