North Carolina residents are aware that teenage drunk driving is a serious problem. Fortunately, a new study reveals that the number of teens who drink and drive dropped by half between 1991 and 2011.
Driving under the influence declining among teens
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nine out of 10 teens under age 16 said they did not drink and drive in 2011. This is a 54 percent decrease from 1991.
Although the CDC director notes that this is good news, it also means that one out of 10 students may be drinking and driving. This number represents about 1 million students per month. Additionally, alcohol was a factor in one in five fatal car accidents involving teen drivers in 2010.
Drinking and driving presents an especially high risk for young drivers. They are 17 times more likely to die in a crash when driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 than when driving sober, according to the CDC.
The study also notes that males age 18 and older are the most likely to drink and drive, while 16-year-old girls are the least likely. Overall, high school students drove after drinking around 2.4 million times per month in 2011.
Roadway safety implications
Although the study reports positive results over the years, teens who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs remain a threat and create dangerous conditions for all drivers on the road. Advocates against drunk driving cite a number of factors that may help minimize this risky behavior, though.
Proper enforcement of minimum drinking-age laws reduces the number of alcohol sales to minors. Zero tolerance laws also significantly reduce the number of underage drunk drivers. These laws make it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drive with any amount of alcohol in their system.
Graduated driver licensing is also currently implemented in all 50 states, although the rules vary by state. Under a GDL system, teen drivers gain new driving privileges as they pass through different licensing stages, and this system has demonstrably improved driver safety.
Finally, it is important that parents stay involved in their teen’s lives and educate them on the dangers of drunk driving. Parents who establish and enforce rules against drinking report fewer incidences of car accidents, traffic citations and irresponsible driving behavior.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident with an impaired driver of any age, contact a personal injury attorney with experience in car accident cases. You may have a legal claim to seek compensation for your injuries and losses resulting from the crash.