Accidents stemming from alcohol-impaired driving are the leading cause of injury and death among college students. Research has implicated certain driver personality characteristics in the majority of these motor vehicle crashes. Sensation seeking in particular has been linked to risky driving, alcohol consumption, and driving while intoxicated. This study investigated the effect of sensation seeking on self-reported alcohol-impaired driving behavior in a college student population while adjusting for demographics, residence and drinking locations. A total of 1587 college students over the age of 18 completed a health screening survey while presenting for routine, non-urgent care at campus heath services centers. Student demographics, living situation, most common drinking location, heavy episodic drinking, sensation-seeking disposition and alcohol-impaired driving behavior were assessed. Using a full-form logistic regression model to isolate sensation seeking after adjusting for covariates, sensation seeking remains a statistically significant independent predictor of alcohol-impaired driving behavior (OR = 1.52; CI = 1.19-1.94; p < 0.001). Older, white, sensation-seeking college students who engage in heavy episodic drinking, live off-campus, and go to bars are at highest risk for alcohol-impaired driving behaviors. Interventions should target sensation seekers and environmental factors that mediate the link between sensation seeking and alcohol-impaired driving behaviors.
- College students
- Impaired driving
- Sensation seeking
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Human Factors and Ergonomics
- Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health