To drive or not to drive? A study of travel behavior for a recent drinking occasion

Kara E. MacLeod, Mikkel Thorhauge, Victor Villalobos, Jeroen van Meijgaard, Katherine J. Karriker-Jaffe, Tara Kelley-Baker, David R. Ragland

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Despite decades of education and enforcement campaigns, alcohol-impaired driving persists as a social problem in the U.S. Are there other factors influencing decisions to drive after alcohol consumption that may be amenable to change? We conducted a roadside survey in California in 2012 to assess whether residential accessibility, travel attitudes (indicated by ratings of convenience and safety for travel options), and perceptions of arrest risk affect travel choices made subsequent to alcohol consumption. We conducted hybrid choice modeling for 580 participants. Mode-specific travel attitudes were valid constructs and predictive of travel behavior. Perceived level of service (speed) increased the utility for taxi and getting a ride. Perceiving high risk of arrest affected mode choice through travel attitudes. Not everyone assessed their mode options in the same way. For example, frequent binge drinkers appear to be more willing to consider taxis, men had stronger preferences towards active modes, and younger drivers were less pro-driving in this context. Past drinking and driving behavior affected one’s attitude towards driving, while the number of drinks was related to mode choice. While our accessibility measure was not significantly related to attitudes or choice, decreasing urbanicity corresponded with stronger preferences for driving. This pilot study suggests that improving level of service (speed), convenience, and overall safety are considerations for public health in terms of promoting alternatives to drinking and driving. This line of research also has implications for emerging options, such as ride hailing, and how these might be optimized for specific segments of the population.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTravel Behaviour and Society
Pages (from-to)74-82
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Accessibility
  • Environment
  • Drinking and driving
  • Risk perceptions
  • Transportation

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