Is Major Depression Linked to Alcohol-Impaired Driving?

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Alcohol-impaired driving causes a substantial proportion of motor vehicle accidents. Depression is a prevalent psychiatric disorder among drinker-drivers. Few previous studies have investigated the relationship between major depression and alcohol-impaired driving.


We investigated whether depression has a positive relationship with the probability of alcohol-impaired driving after controlling for the co-occurrence of binge drinking and alcohol dependence.


Our data consisted of drinkers aged 21-64 years from two waves of the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions. Cross-sectional analysis investigated whether depression is an independent risk factor for drinking-driving. Longitudinal analysis distinguished the relationship of depression onset, continuance, and recovery with changes in drinking-driving behaviors between the waves. These dual approaches allowed comparisons with previous studies.


Major depression was a small but statistically significant predictor of changes in alcohol-impaired driving behaviors among males but not females. Binge drinking and alcohol dependence were comparatively stronger predictors. Conclusions/Importance: There is limited empirical support that treating depression reduces drinking and driving in males who do not exhibit symptoms of alcohol use disorders. For persons with co-occurring depression and alcohol use disorders, depression treatment should be part of a strategy for treating alcohol use disorders which are highly related to drinking and driving.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Pogue, YZ; Hakes, JK; Sloan, FA

Published Date

  • December 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 52 / 14

Start / End Page

  • 1871 - 1882

PubMed ID

  • 28742411

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC6145452

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1532-2491

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1082-6084

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/10826084.2017.1318147


  • eng