Evaluation of Responsible Beverage Service to Reduce Impaired Driving by 21- to 34-Year-Old Drivers

Despite progress in reducing impaired driving, young adult drivers 21 to 34 remain a particularly high-risk group for involvement in impaired-driving-related crashes. A number of studies have revealed that approximately half of intoxicated drivers had their last drink at a licensed bar or restaurant. Researchers have studied risk factors associated with drinking leading to a wide range of harmful incidents (violence, injury, and illness) and concluded, “the most significant risk factors were the amount of alcohol consumed and whether obviously intoxicated customers continue to be served.” The two communities participating in this demonstration and evaluation—Monroe County, New York, and Cleveland, Ohio—agreed to implement an intervention that integrated outreach and responsible beverage service (RBS) training, targeted enforcement and, as necessary, implemented corrective actions by the enforcement agency to a random sample of identified problem bars. The immediate goal of the RBS/enforcement program was to reduce the practice of over-serving and serving to obviously intoxicated individuals in bars and restaurants in each community through training and enforcement. The long-term goal of the program was to reduce driving-while-intoxicated (DWI) arrests and impaired-driving-related traffic crashes by 21- to 34-year-olds. Overall, the indications from this study are that RBS training plus enforcement reduced the incidence of bar patron intoxication (and potential impaired driving). It appears that when bar managers and owners are aware of the program and the enforcement of it and servers are properly trained in RBS, fewer patrons become highly intoxicated (i.e., over-served), and an effort is made to deny service to obviously intoxicated patrons. Given that about half of drivers arrested for DWI are coming from licensed establishments in any given community, if implementation of this strategy is widespread, it could have an effect on reducing impaired driving. RBS training, followed by visible and sustained enforcement, may be an important strategy to combat impaired driving and injuries associated with excessive drinking. Many of the findings in this study were consistent with expectations regarding the intervention’s influence, and the cumulative evidence points to a positive effect in reducing intoxication at bars. These findings validate prior research on RBS as a countermeasure to prevent excessive drinking followed by impaired driving and indicate that more widespread implementation in communities, although not easily accomplished, could have an effect, not only on impaired driving, but also on other alcohol-attributable harm.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 89p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01637038
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: DOT HS 812 398
  • Contract Numbers: DTNH22-06-D-00035, Task 8
  • Created Date: May 31 2017 2:17PM