The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report this month that indicates a serious drop in the percentage of high school students who report that they have driven drunk. Alcohol is a factor in a large percentage of fatal motor vehicle accidents. Teens are involved in a disproportionate number of fatal car accidents. In many cases drinking and driving is responsible. The report lists several potential reasons for the reduction in teen drinking and driving behaviors.
In 1991, the CDC asked high school students if they had gotten behind the wheel while drunk. Slightly more than 22 percent of them responded in the affirmative. Last year, when asked the same question, only 10.3 percent indicated that they had driven drunk. That is a 54 percent drop in two decades.
Part of the reason is the well-documented trend of teens simply driving less than they did in the past. In 2000, 15 percent of high school seniors did not drive at all on an average week. In 2010, the number had risen to 22 percent. The poor economy which has reduced the number of jobs among 16- to 24-year-olds by 2.7 million plays a large role in that. In addition, the sharp increase in gas prices has reduced the miles driven by teens.
Whatever the cause, the fewer teens who are engaging in drinking and driving the better off we all are. Alcohol and driving is a dangerous combination. Teens already suffer from an elevated rate of accidents due to their lack of experience and decision-making problems. When you combine alcohol with inexperience behind the wheel, the results are often deadly.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “Teen drunk driving declines as gas prices rise,” by Tiffany Hsu, 3 October 2012