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Drunk Driving Decreasing Among Teens, CDC Says

Updated on: 11/13/2019

Teenage drivers are the target of a great deal of public outreach and education campaigns these days, especially with all of the attention on traffic fatalities from distracted driving and drunk driving accidents in the United States. So when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) came out with a report highlighting the drastic improvements that have been made in the world of drunk driving among teenagers, you could practically hear the cheers from driver safety experts around the world. And while we know that the job of eliminating drunk driving is never over, it’s reassuring to see the progress that has been made over the years.

Drunk Driving Data Revealed

After analyzing data from the national Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System from 1991 to 2011, researchers at the CDC recently revealed that, as a whole, drunk driving among teenagers has declined by approximately 54 percent over the last two decades.

“We are moving in the right direction,” says CDC Director Thomas Frieden. “Rates of teens drinking and driving have been cut in half in 20 years. But we must keep up the momentum – one in 10 highs school teens drinks and drives each month, endangering themselves and others.”

Frieden’s comments refer to the researchers’ finding that approximately 90 percent of teens (over the age of 16) do not drink and drive.

This is extremely encouraging information, as previous research from the CDC indicated that closer to 40 percent of high school teens had admitted to driving drunk at some point during the previous month.

Additional Findings from the CDC

In addition to the reductions in drunk driving among teenagers, the CDC research team was able to discover additional factors and trends related to drunk driving in the United States. Here are some of the team’s other findings:

  • Binge drinking behavior is heavily associated with teens and drunk driving. According to the CDC, 85 percent of teens who admitted to drunk driving in the past month also said that they had participated in binge drinking.
  • High school boys aged 18 and above were the most likely to admit to drunk driving behavior in recent months, with about 16 percent. High school girls at the age of 16 were the least likely to have driven drunk at just six percent.
  • In 2011, approximately nine out of 10 teenagers (above the age of 16) interviewed had reported never engaging in drunk driving. That is an approximate 30 percent reduction from the most previous data.

The CDC website also has a great deal of informational resources and articles regarding drunk driving and underage alcohol consumption. With a bevy of statistics and suggestions for parents of teenagers, we absolutely recommend checking out the  CDC Underage Drinking Fact Sheet & other related pages.

What are your thoughts on the statistical revelation on drunk driving among teenagers in the United States? Does this data surprise you in any way? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comment box below. 

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