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Can Texting Curb Drunk Driving?

Boozers asked to send and receive messages that track their drinking cut down, study finds.


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By Luke Walker


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Text messaging to and from heavy drinkers, tracking their habit, helps them consume less, researchers say. Participants—aged 18-24 and identified as hazardous drinkers after ER visits—were split into three separate groups in the small-scale study, conducted by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and published on the Journal of Alcoholism website. One group was asked to send and receive regular text messages tracking alcohol consumption; a second group was asked only to send texts, and a control group neither sent nor received messages. The send-and-receive group reported drinking significantly less by the end of the 12-week study, while the other two groups kept drinking the same amount. “Given that mobile phones are essentially ubiquitous among young adults, and texting in particular is a heavily used communication tool, we sought to build and test an automated text messaging system that could conduct a health dialogue,” says study author Dr. Brian Suffoletto.


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