Trends in Drinking-Driving at Night: A Comparison of the First Five Roadside Surveys of the Fairfax Alcohol Safety Action Project: Final Report

Report No: 77-R1

Published in 1976

About the report:

This report outlines the findings of the first five annual roadside surveys conducted in conjunction with the Fairfax Alcohol Safety Action Project (ASAP). The baseline survey was conducted in January of 1972 with the four subsequent surveys being conducted in October of each year. The primary purpose of the roadside surveys is to provide an indication of total project impact which would be manifested in changes in blood alcohol concentrations (BAC's) among night drivers. Secondly, the surveys provide information as to the effectiveness of the Public Information and Education (PI & E) countermeasure in disseminating knowledge of the drunk driving laws in Virginia. Distributions of blood alcohol concentrations among night drivers were found to have changed significantly across time, in that proportionally fewer drivers registered low or negative BAC's and more registered higher BAC's in the most recent survey than in the earlier ones. Thus, there is no evidence from the roadside surveys to indicate that the Fairfax ASAP has been successful in reducing the incidence of drunken driving as measured by the percentage of drivers above the presumptive limit. In terms of drinking habits, there was a discrepancy between increased drinking just prior to the survey and both increases in admitted drinking behavior and the driver's perceptions of their drinking status (light vs. moderate vs. heavy drinker). Also, fewer than 10% of the respondents knew how many drinks they would have to drink in order to achieve a BAC over a 10%, the presumptive limit in Virginia.

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.


  • Cheryl W. Lynn

Last updated: January 28, 2024

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