The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs Top DownloadsThe Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs Top Downloads of 2012

The two reseach projects are:

  1. Exploring the ecological association between crime and medical marijuana dispensaries
    Kepple NJ, Freisthler B
    J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2012 Jul;73(4):523-30

  2. Alcohol-related risk of driver fatalities: An update using 2007 data
    Voas RB, Torres P, Romano E, Lacey JH
    J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2012 May;73(3):341-50

Exploring the Ecological Association Between Crime and Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Routine activities theory purports that crime occurs in places with a suitable target, motivated offender, and lack of guardianship. Medical marijuana dispensaries may be places that satisfy these conditions, but this has not yet been studied. The current study examined whether the density of medical marijuana dispensaries is associated with crime.

Alcohol-related risk of driver fatalities: An update using 2007 data

Past relative risk studies have provided lawmakers with a scientific basis for the design and implementation of several alcohol-related traffic safety policies, programs, and laws. Per se laws (initially at a BAC of .10, now .08) and zero-tolerance (ZT) laws for underage drivers are examples of laws that have been shown to be effective in reducing alcohol-related crash fatalities.†† Although the existing laws continue to restrain the number of alcohol-related crashes, impaired-driving fatalities are no longer declining in the United States.† It has been suggested that risk-taking attitudes might have changed over the last decade, making some groups of drivers unexpectedly vulnerable to crashes (Romano, Kelley-Baker, and Voas, 2009).† The existing battery of laws and policies might be failing to accommodate such changes in risk-taking attitudes. It is therefore apparent that alcohol-related crash risk estimates need to be updated.†

Funded by the NIAAA (R21AA018158-01A2, Romano PI), a team of PIRE researchers was set to produce such update.† By linking the 2007 National Roadside Survey (NRS) data to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) a census of all fatal crashes in the United States, the researchers estimated alcohol-related crash risk for different demographic groups of drivers and compared them with the risk levels for 1996 reported by Zador et al. (2000).††

The study found that he overall relative risk (RR) level for adults in 2007 was slightly elevated over that of 1996, but the difference was not statistically significant.† Both studies found the expected reduction in RR associated with increased age.† †The primary differences between the 1996 and 2007 analyses involved underage drivers.† The 2007 analysis found that compared with drivers aged 21 to 34, sober underage drivers were at higher risk than estimated in the 1996 study.† This finding seems somewhat surprising as the 1996 to 2007 period was marked by the trend for the states to enact graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws, which increase the age of licensing and extend the period of adult supervision of the novice driver.†† Furthermore, the study found young female drivers to be at an increased risk in 2007.† Back in 1996, the U.S. had a gender split when it came to underage drinkersí odds of being involved in a fatal car crash: at any given blood-alcohol level, young men had a higher risk of a fatal crash than young women did.† But by 2007, that gender gap had closed. ††The total number of young men involved in fatal alcohol-related wrecks is still greater because men drink more. But at a given blood-alcohol level, young women now appear to have the same risk of a fatal crash as their male peers do.†† The exact reasons are not clear. But itís possible that young women are drinking are taking greater risks on the road in 2007 than in 1996.†

†The study also turned up another concerning pattern, sober (BAC=.00) male drivers ages 16Ė20 showed a doubling in the risk of a fatal car crash between 1996 and 2007.†† Again, itís not clear why, but the authors speculate that it may have a lot to do with distraction. Sober kids are more at risk, and the authors think it may be related to texting and the other new technologies they are using so much.† If so, that points to a need not only for drunk-driving prevention, but also efforts to curb distracted driving.


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