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Research Update: School-based Programs Reduce Riding with Alcohol-impaired Drivers

Elder RW, Nichols JL, Shults RA, Sleet DA, Barrios LC, Compton R. Task Force on Community Preventive Services. Effectiveness of school-based health promotion programs for reducing drinking and driving and alcohol-involved crashes: a systematic review. Am J Prev Med 2005;28(5S):288–304.

Fewer students report riding with alcohol-impaired drivers after attending school-based instructional programs, according to a report published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. This conclusion was reached after a systematic review of research on three types of school-based interventions: instructional programs, peer organizations, and social norming campaigns. A team of experts led by CDC scientists, under the oversight of the Task Force on Community Preventive Services—a 15-member, nonfederal group of leaders in various health-related fields—conducted the review which combines the results of thirteen peer-reviewed papers and technical reports. (Visit for more information.)

Results from the systematic review found evidence that school-based instructional programs reduce incidences of students riding with alcohol-impaired drivers. However, insufficient evidence was available to determine whether these programs reduce drinking and driving among students. Instructional programs varied in length, approach, and content; those that included refusal skills and other skill training along with student interaction, were shown to be the most promising approaches.

Although studies demonstrated some benefit from peer organizations and social norming campaigns, the systematic review found insufficient evidence to support the effectiveness of either intervention type, due primarily to the limited number of studies published.

For More Information
To learn more about this and other systematic reviews related to the prevention of motor vehicle injury, visit

For examples of model intervention programs, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website. This site provides information on various programs, some of which are school-based, that have been tested and shown to prevent or reduce substance abuse and other related high-risk behaviors. Learn more about these programs at


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