Although our study may indicate a correlation between all these variables, it would not be able to explain why there is a correlation between them. If our hypothesis about the correlation between heavy drinking and a higher chance of driving while intoxicated is supported, this could be interpreted and explained in many ways. One potential explanation could be that if people are heavy drinkers, they may be so intoxicated that they no longer have a sense or moral judgment, leading them to get into a vehicle and operate it while intoxicated.
Another explanation can be that heavier drinking may indicate a higher rate of impulsivity for the individual, as described by the study on the effects of impulsivity (Moan et al. , 2013). Someone may be a heavier drinker due to their higher impulsivity, and their impulsivity could therefore lead them to making the risky decision of driving under the influence of alcohol. We also know from previous studies that alcohol has a direct effect on moral judgment, and can cause individuals to make decisions that they normally wouldn’t make without the alcohol clouding their judgment, such as driving under the influence (Denton and Krebs, 1990).
If our hypothesis about dangerous driving patterns and drunk driving is correct, this could also potentially be explained by individuals being more impulsive. If they are impulsive enough to engage in other dangerous driving behaviors, then they therefore might be risky enough to attempt driving while intoxicated. Another explanation could be that if individuals feel confident that they are good drivers even when they engage in other dangerous driving patterns (i. e. driving while using a cellphone), then they may feel confident in themselves that they are capable of operating a vehicle while intoxicated as well.
Given these were the results, they would go hand-in-hand with the findings from Risky driving habits and motor vehicle driver injury (Blows et al. , 2005), because the study they conducted also concluded that a consistency of dangerous driving behaviors correlates with driving while under the influence of alcohol, and this would also help support our hypothesis.
Finally, if our hypothesis that individuals who are both heavy drinkers and risky drivers is supported, this can also be explained for similar reasons. Heavy drinking and driving recklessly can be caused by someone who is impulsive and thrill-seeking, and this combination may then lead them to drive while intoxicated. Although our findings within our study may be significant, there are of course going to be some limitations. The biggest limitation is that we are using a correlational analysis.
While this is a good way of seeing if there is some sort of relationship between variables, it does not explain causation. We do not know if one variable causes the other, and there is also a big risk of confounding variables or a third variable that causes the two variables to correlate to one another. So while we can say that there is a significant correlation between several variables, it is not safe to conclude what is the cause of the correlation between them.
There are other potential limitations regarding the participant’s responses to our questionnaire that could also affect the study. Although we will be giving a form for the participants sign that ensures that there are no consequences of being completely honest about their past actions, not everyone will admit to things they have done. Since we are dealing with responses about illegal actions such as reckless driving, driving while under the influence, underage drinking, etc. , participants may not be totally honest with their responses.
They may fear they will somehow get in trouble for being honest despite us ensuring they will not, and they may want to give socially desirable answers, and therefore may be hesitant to admitting things that they shouldn’t have done. There is also the possibility that individuals may say they haven’t driven while intoxicated when they actually have, not because they are trying to lie, but because they might actually believe that they have not done so. Oftentimes individuals feel they are fine to drive after drinking, even though they shouldn’t because they are over the legal BAL limit to drive.
If they do go on to drive, and make it home without any consequences, they may then reassure themselves that they were fine to drive. If this is the case, an individual may respond to our questionnaire saying that they’ve never driven while intoxicated, even though they actually have. We also need to consider that our sample is made up of all college students from the same university, which means the findings may not be applicable to everyone. These are all things to consider when conducting our research, so that we know our findings may not be completely accurate and generalizable.
Whether our hypotheses are supported or not after conducting our study, whatever findings we obtain from the study can potentially help us to target the causes of people engaging in drunk driving. Once we know some of the causes of why individuals drive under the influence, we can then try to help stop it from occurring. If heavy drinking and dangerous driving habits are in fact correlated to drunk driving, there are ways that can put an end to this occurring. Of course we can’t stop people from consuming large amounts of alcohol, but perhaps places where people drink alcohol such as bars, restaurants, casinos, etc. an put more effort into making sure no one tries to leave in a car while over the legal blood alcohol limit to drive.
This can help reduce the number of heavy drinkers that try to operate a vehicle when they shouldn’t. Another way to help reduce the number of intoxicated drivers on the road is to enforce stricter laws. If punishments are harsher for reckless driving such as with speeding, cell phone use while driving, not wearing a seatbelt, and especially driving while intoxicated, this can reduce the number of people who engage in these sort of dangerous behaviors, as they would not want to face the consequences.
We can also consider what was said in Rivara’s study; people can potentially benefit from designated driver and safe ride home programs. If more people are educated about these types of programs, they will probably use them more and more. All of these methods are good ways to get people to understand that driving while intoxicated is not the only option. Hopefully through this study we can help to eventually reduce the number of intoxicated drivers on the road, which can and will save lives.