Monday , May 20 2024

Drunk Driving: Teens Sucking Far Less Than in Past

I know teenagers are congenitally dopey – freaky hormones, loud music, peer pressure, self-exploration, gestures of independence, etc. – but I know for sure that my two teens and their friends are a hell of a lot less stupid than my friends and I were, especially in the areas of personal responsibility and substance abuse: they’re all serious and responsible and whatnot. Maybe there is such thing as “progress.”

Teen drunk driving is way down according to the CDC:

    During 1982–2001, fatal crash involvement by drinking drivers decreased 46% (95% confidence interval [CI]=-48%—45%) (Figure). The most dramatic decreases were among drivers aged <21 years. Fatal alcohol-related crash rates decreased 60% (95% CI=-65%-- -56%) for drivers aged 16--17 years, 55% (95% CI=-58%-- -52%) for drivers aged 18--20 years, 41% (95% CI=-44%-- -38%) for drivers aged 21--24 years, and 39% (95% CI=-41%-- -38%) for drivers aged >25 years. These decreases had been achieved by 1997 (48% overall decrease, 95% CI=-49%– -47%), when the trend began to level off. Since 1999, rates have increased slightly for all age groups except those aged 16–17 years (16–17 years:-3%, 95% CI=-16%–11%; 18–20 years: 6%, 95% CI=-2%–14%; 21–24 years: 10%, 95% CI=3%–16%; >25 years: 4%, 95% CI=1%–7%). Despite the overall decreases, alcohol-related crashes resulted in 17,448 fatalities during 2001.

    ….During 1982–2001, rates of alcohol-related fatal crashes decreased substantially across all age groups, with the largest decrease among drivers aged <21 years. These drivers were recognized increasingly as a high-risk group during the 1970s, when many states lowered their legal drinking age and alcohol-related crashes increased. Subsequently, targeted interventions were implemented to reduce rates of alcohol-impaired driving. The 1984 Uniform Drinking Age Act required states to adopt a minimum legal drinking age of 21 years by 1988. Other interventions targeted directly at young drivers include "zero tolerance" BAC standards for drivers under the legal drinking age and graduated driver licensing programs, which require new drivers to progress through stages, allowing them increased driving priviledges as they gain experience. Other factors that have probably reduced overall levels of drinking and driving include new laws and policies, stronger law enforcement, community-based education and advocacy programs, and shifts in social norms about alcohol consumption and the acceptability of alcohol-impaired driving.

17,448 alcohol-related fatalities in 2001 are still 17,448 too many, but there are an awful lot of kids alive today who wouldn’t have been under the statistics from my era (’70s). There are a ton of great kids out there – keep an eye on them but don’t forget to appreciate them.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted,, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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