CDC Statistics Show One Million Teens Drink and Drive
One million teens drink and drive, down 54 percent in 20 years
Just last week our Pennsylvania car accident attorneys reported that teens tend to mimic the unsafe driving behaviors of their parents. Now, in a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers confirmed this behavior, specifically with drinking. According to the report, “teen alcohol consumption and drinking and driving patterns are correlated with those of adults living in the same state.”
The CDC released its latest study on teen drinking, Vital Signs: Drinking and Driving Among High School Students Aged ≥16 Years — United States, 1991–2011. The report was compiled after analyzing data from the 1991–2011 national Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS) to describe the trend in prevalence of drinking and driving (defined as driving one or more times when they had been drinking alcohol during the 30 days before the survey) among U.S. high school students aged ≥16 years, according to the press release.
Although the report contained some good news – the percentage of teenagers that are drinking and driving has dropped 54 percent over the last 20 years – the CDC found that almost a million high school teens age 16 and over drove after drinking alcohol in 2011.
CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden reports that while nine out of ten high school teens are not drinking and driving, slightly more than 10 percent of American teens reported drinking and driving in 2011. The CDC calculates that high school teens were responsible for about 2.4 million episodes of drinking and driving a month. In addition, nearly 85 percent of those students also binge drank.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that automobile accidents are the number one cause of deaths among American teens. Mile for mile, according to the NHTSA, teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers. Frieden points out, “even without alcohol, teen drivers are at a much higher risk of having a serious or fatal accident than adult drivers.”
However, teens are 17 times more likely to die in a crash when they have a blood alcohol concentration of .08 than when they’ve not been drinking. Sadly, one in five teen drivers who was involved in a fatal crash had alcohol in their system in 2010.
The CDC reports that effective interventions that reduce drinking and driving among teens include minimum legal drinking age laws, zero tolerance laws, and GDL. It also urges parents and adults to take an active role in helping to stop drinking among teenagers.
In addition, the CDC suggests families create “a parent–teen driver agreement to establish and enforce the ‘rules of the road’ for their newly licensed teen, including complying with all state GDL provisions, never drinking and driving, and always wearing a seat belt.”
Our Pennsylvania car accident attorneys cannot say it enough – do not drink and drive. And, do not let your children drink and drive. Frieden asks “parents to lead by example as safe drivers,” and we agree. It is critical that parents act as role models for their children and to drive safely every time they get behind the wheel.
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