U.S. Surgeon General's Office reports that in the last 75
years, life expectancy has increased for every age group but
one: young adults (ages 15-24). Even more troubling is the
observation that nearly half of the deaths in this age group
can be attributed to alcohol an drug-impaired driving.
To better understand the problem of teenage drinking and
driving, an article in the American Journal of Public
Health presented data from 10 years of national surveys
of American high-school seniors. Three main points emerged
from the data, along with a conclusion:
- Rates of adolescent drinking and driving and driving (and
riding with a driver who had been drinking) actually declined
from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s.
- However, these trends did not continue after 1995, and
the rates may have increased again from 1995-1997.
- A substantial percentage of students have exposed themselves
to alcohol-impaired driving, even at the lowest points.
The authors suggest that teenage drinking and driving behaviors
can be changed over time, as evidenced by the decline between
1984-1992, but are quick to suggest that improved prevention
efforts may also be necessary. Tell your children about the
profound dangers of drinking and driving. The lives they save
may be their own.
O'Malley PM, Johnston LD. Drinking and driving among U.S.
high school seniors, 1984-1997. American Journal of Public
Health , May 1999: Vol. 89, No. 5, pp678-684.