Abstract for: Application of System Dynamics to Map Causal Mechanisms of Drinking and Driving Behaviors Among Teens and Young Adults

Alcohol-impaired driving is prevalent among teens and young adults. In 2018, nearly one quarter of all young drivers killed, were involved in an alcohol-related crash. Moreover, 82% of these drivers were noted to have blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of ≥.08 grams per deciliter. This study identified and mapped key mechanisms and feedback processes that affect alcohol-impaired driving among teens and young adults in the U.S. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first attempt to apply qualitative systems mapping to the problem of alcohol impaired driving and bring a feedback perspective for understanding the drivers and inhibitors of the problem. The causal loop diagram (CLD) developed in this study is based on the output of two group model building sessions conducted with multidisciplinary subject matter experts bolstered with comprehensive literature review. Embedded in these feedback loops are the physical flow of youth between the categories of abstainers, drinkers, and alcohol impaired drivers. The presented CLD depicts diverse influences on youth impaired driving including parents, peers, policies, law enforcement, and the alcohol industry. We identify key inertial factors, discuss how delay and feedback processes affect observed behaviors over time, and suggest strategies to reduce youth impaired driving.