Drinking-Driving Attitudes: A Comparison of the First Two Household Surveys of the Fairfax Alcohol Safety Action Project

Report No: 75-R15

Published in 1974

About the report:

This report provides an analysis of the community response to the public information countermeasure of the Fairfax Alcohol Safety Action Project, one thrust of a national effort to get the drunken driver off the highway. A series of in-depth household surveys form the primary tool for the analysis. Among the variables measured were knowledge of alcohol-related driving offenses, attitudes toward the penalties for drunken driving, knowledge of drinking quantities, and information regarding blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and its measurement. Annual survey samples included 500 subjects both in 1971 and 1972 and were by design matched to the population in the study area by age, sex, and proportion of licensed drivers. The major findings of this study include: (1) an increased recognition among those surveyed of the problem drinker, rather than the social drinker, as the cause of most fatal traffic accidents, (2) a public attitude shift away from strong punitive sanctions for driving while intoxicated (DWI) offenders, (3) growing support for the use of rehabilitative measures, and (4) an increase in recognition of the presumptive limit used for determining when DWI violations in fact occur. It was recommended that future community based public information and education campaigns should emphasize those specific topics for which survey respondents indicated only minor improvement or static reaction over time. Recommendations also included greater use of broadcast media campaigns for the dissemination of the public information programs.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • Robert F. Jordan

Last updated: February 5, 2024

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