The Texas driver responsibility program: A preliminary analysis of the impact on impaired driving and trauma system funding

Michelle Price, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Objective. In 2003, the State of Texas instituted the Driver Responsibility Program (TDRP), a program consisting of a driving infraction point system coupled with a series of graded fines and annual surcharges for specific traffic violations such as driving while intoxicated (DWI). Approximately half of the revenues generated are earmarked to be disbursed to the state's trauma system to cover uncompensated trauma care costs. This study examined initial program implementation, the impact of trauma system funding, and initial impact on impaired driving knowledge, attitudes and behaviors. A model for targeted media campaigns to improve the program's deterrence effects was developed. Methods. Data from two independent driver survey samples (conducted in 1999 and 2005), department of public safety records, state health department data and a state auditor's report were used to evaluate the program's initial implementation, impact and outcome with respect to drivers' impaired driving knowledge, attitudes and behavior (based on constructs of social cognitive theory) and hospital uncompensated trauma care funding. Survey results were used to develop a regression model of high risk drivers who should be targeted to improve program outcome with respect to deterring impaired driving. Results. Low driver compliance with fee payment (28%) and program implementation problems were associated with lower surcharge revenues in the first two years ($59.5 million versus $525 million predicted). Program revenue distribution to trauma hospitals was associated with a 16% increase in designated trauma centers. Survey data demonstrated that only 28% of drivers are aware of the TDRP and that there has been no initial impact on impaired driving behavior. Logistical regression modeling suggested that target media campaigns highlighting the likelihood of DWI detection by law enforcement and the increased surcharges associated with the TDRP are required to deter impaired driving. Conclusions. Although the TDRP raised nearly $60 million in surcharge revenue for the Texas trauma system over the first two years, this study did not find evidence of a change in impaired driving knowledge, attitudes or behaviors from 1999 to 2005. Further research is required to measure whether the program is associated with decreased alcohol-related traffic fatalities.

Subject Area

Behaviorial sciences|Public health|Transportation

Recommended Citation

Price, Michelle, "The Texas driver responsibility program: A preliminary analysis of the impact on impaired driving and trauma system funding" (2007). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3290034.