Injury patients’ perceptions of drink-driving: A qualitative assessment of drink-driving behavior in Moshi, Tanzania

Deena El-Gabri, Loren K. Barcenas, Brian Meier, Mark Mvungi, Michael Haglund, Charles J. Gerardo, Joao Ricardo N. Vissoci*, Catherine A. Staton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background Globally, about 2.3 billion people are current alcohol drinkers, and 283 million have an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use while driving is a major contributor to road traffic injuries (RTI). We need to understand the culture and perception of drink-driving in this setting to understand why people continue to drink drive and allow policymakers to develop more effective ways to address drink-driving behavior. This study aims to qualitatively determine what injury patients, their families, and community advisory board members in Tanzania believe about drink-driving to help inform policies to address this problem. Methods The semi-structured focus group was designed based on the grounded theory and assessed using thematic analysis. Focus groups participants were a convenience sample of injury patients, their families, and community advisory board (CAB) members. Analysis was iterative throughout the study. All transcripts were coded using a thematic narrative approach. Representative quotes for each theme were then selected based on comparative analysis of coding with input from research team members. Results A total of ten focus groups were conducted (4 patient, 4 family, and 2 CAB) with a total of 104 participants (37 females and 67 males). The normalization of drinking among drivers has allowed this behavior to become ingrained in the culture. Participants expressed notions that passengers are responsible for their own safety, rather than drivers being responsible for their passengers. Most participants believe it is a citizen’s duty to inform the police of suspected drink-driving, however there were differing opinions about how effective informed police officers can be in practice. Focus group discussions between all three population types highlighted major themes of ‘drinking is ingrained in boda boda driver culture’, ‘individuals have a personal responsibility to address drink-driving’, and a ‘police enforcement on drink-driving is necessary’. Conclusions Normalization of drink-driving in commercial driver culture creates a dangerous environment for passengers which can be mitigated by education and health promotion. As most passengers already take personal responsibility for their own road traffic safety, they may be likely to make use of safe ride options, if available. While legislation is in place against drink-driving, police officers need to be empowered with appropriate training and funding to enforce them.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0230662
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2020
Externally publishedYes


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