“Even though it is against the law in most states in the U.S., teens and young people under 21 years of age still admit to consuming alcohol, and many of these drive,” said Hurt by Drunk Driver Attorney Randall Spivey of Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.
A 2014 survey in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, found that among students in grades 9 through 12, the highest use rates the previous month were for alcohol, followed by marijuana and cigarettes.
State laws have not stopped legally drunk teen drivers from getting behind the wheel. Even though only 10 percent of licensed drivers are under the age of 21, they are responsible for 17 percent of fatal alcohol-related crashes. Twenty-nine percent of young drivers (15-20 years old) who were killed in these crashes had a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .01 or higher.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) reported that in 2011, 2,650 teens between the ages of 16 – 19 were killed in motor vehicle accidents, with another 292,000 receiving emergency room treatment due to vehicle crash injuries.
The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility recommends parents and guardians “start a conversation.” The foundation initiated a program called, I Know Everything "…to prepare teens to be safe behind the wheel in an integrated effort highlighting the issues of drunk and distracted driving.” The I Know Everything campaign conducts challenge events in schools. Challenge events were held in the spring of 2014. During these events teens were tested on driving safety knowledge. These students came from over 2,000 high schools which were in urban, suburban and rural areas across the nation.
What were the results?
According to the foundation less than half of the teens would have received a passing grade. Also, 67 percent of the students taking the test did not understand how to safely navigate a complicated driving situation.
SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) and peer pressure:
SADD’s original mission was to help young people say “No” to drinking and driving. Now it has expanded. The students involved with SADD have told the organization that positive peer pressure, role modeling and environmental strategies can help prevent the destructive behavior of drinking and driving. SADD is now, “a peer-to-peer education, prevention, and activism organization dedicated to preventing destructive decisions, particularly underage drinking.”
As members of SADD, Pepperell High School (Rome Georgia) students took action in 2013 when thirteen stores were cited for selling alcohol to teens. They implemented SADD’s 21 or Bust campaign working with local law enforcement. SADD members persuaded alcohol retailers to join the campaign and pledge not to sell alcohol to teens, to check IDs of any customer who appeared to be younger than 30, post campaign posters and train employees. The campaign was a huge success and drew a lot of media.
What vehicle safety devices are forthcoming?
The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and the ACT (Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety) have teamed together in researching DADSS (Driver Alcohol Detection System). According to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, the DADSS first-of-its-kind technology “…holds the greatest potential to reverse the trends in DUIs.” The vehicle will be prevented by the technology from moving if a BAC is at or above .08. Experts feel this safety option for a new vehicle will lessen the number of DUI accidents.