"To truly address alcohol-impaired driving, we need to address it as a drinking and a driving problem, and not just do things that deter people from drinking once they become impaired," Flowers said.
She added that doctors need to do more than simply ask if patients have a problem with alcohol. "They're not asking specifically about the number of drinks consumed on one occasion and talking to people about the consequences of that behavior," she said.
Aaron White, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Duke University who studies alcohol abuse, said the study is "compelling and important."
The findings show that "people who tend to drink and drive are drinking way more than a glass or two of wine with dinner," he said. "The data are more than a little scary."
However, White thinks the study could help improve the situation. "By identifying the slice of the population at greatest risk of drinking and driving, the authors have done a great service," he said. "The next step is figuring out how to target education and prevention efforts toward this group in an effort to reduce the likelihood that they will drink and drive."
Learn more about drunken driving from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Nicole T. Flowers, M.D., M.P.H., medical epidemiologist, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta; Aaron White, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry, author of "Keeping Adolescence Healthy," Duke University, Durham, N.C.; April 2008, Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research
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