Teenage Drinking and Driving

“One in 10 teens in high school drink and drive, young drivers ages (16-20) are 17 times more likely to die in a crash when they have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% than when they have not been drinking” (CDC). Since 1991 teenage drinking has been reduced by more than half, but that isn’t enough, more can still be done. Before 1982 the legal age for drinking was 18, but then when Ronald Reagan became president the drinking age was raised to 21. Because of that change thousands and thousands of lives have been saved, but still thousands have died, and lives are still being lost every day.

In 2011 nearly one million teenagers drank alcohol and go behind the wheel putting their lives and others in extreme danger. Teen drivers are 3 times more likely to be in a fatal crash than experienced drivers, so drinking any alcohol at all increases the risk. “High school students aged 16 years and older who, when surveyed, said they had driven a vehicle one or more times during the past 30 days when they had been drinking alcohol.”(CDC). Drunk driving, especially by teens, is one of the most avoidable threats to public health in America. “1 in 5 teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had some alcohol in their system in 2010″(CDC). Parental involvement, minimum legal drinking age, zero tolerance laws, and graduated driver licensing system are all steps that have been proven by research to decrease the chances of teens drinking and driving, and in the end causing death.

Some types of preventative measures have to be taken soon if we want to lower the percentage of teens that drink and drive. The first step to prevention is having a Minimum legal drinking age (MLDA). This makes it a law in every state for it to be illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under age 21. Research has shown that enforcement of MLDA laws using alcohol retailer compliance checks has reduced retail sales of alcohol to those under the legal drinking age.

Even though this is already in place, we need to crack down harder and have more focus on preventing the sale of alcohol to underage drinkers and being more aware. Also reinforcing Zero tolerance laws in every state make it illegal for those under age 21 to drive after drinking any alcohol. These laws have been proven to reduce the sale of alcohol to minors, and they serve as one step further to push people to not take the illegal actions. The Graduated driver licensing (GDL) systems help new drivers get more experience under less risky conditions. As teens move through stages, they gain privileges, such as driving at night or driving with passengers. This system is enforced in many states and has been proven to show improvement among the youth and helps provided safer driving.

And finally, what I believe to be the number one preventative measure, Parental involvement. This helps keep new drivers safe as they learn to drive, with a focus on monitoring and restricting what new drivers are allowed to do. Parents can consider creating and signing a parent-teen driving agreement with their teens, which would give them more incentive and better understanding of the seriousness of the situation. Research has shown that when parents establish and enforce the “rules of the road”, new drivers report lower rates of risky driving, traffic violations, and crashes.

Works Cited

  1. Macionis, J. J. (n.d.). Sociology, 15th Ed. Teen Drinking and Driving. CDC. (2012, October 02). Retrieved May 03, 2016

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