Abstract for: Modeling of adolescents’ and young adults’ drinking and driving behaviors in the United States

Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death among teens in the U.S. This study aims to identify, map, and simulate key mechanisms and feedback processes that affect alcohol impaired driving among teens and young adults in the U.S. The main structure of the model is based on the output of a group model building (GMB) session conducted with multidisciplinary subject matter experts in October 2019 and will be revised after getting feedback from experts in our next GMB session in fall 2020. The model is calibrated with multiple sources of data and it is used to conduct what if analysis. We found that reducing the average frequency of alcohol impaired driving leads to lower impaired driving trips but it increases number of teens who drive while alcohol impaired. Multiple balancing feedback loops contribute to this unintended outcome. As impaired driving trips decline, fewer drunk drivers are arrested which may lead to lower visibility of enforcement. In addition, fewer young drunk drivers could experience near crashes and DWI trips identified by parents could decrease. Policy makers need to consider the complexity of interactions between different prevention mechanisms as they consider the designing of effective interventions.