Fewer high school teens are getting behind the wheel drunk compared to 1991, according to a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nine out of 10 high school teens did not drink and drive in 2011, but officials say more progress needs to be made.
“We are moving in the right direction. Rates of teen drinking and driving have been cut in half in 20 years,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, M.D., in a statement. “But we must keep up the momentum -- one in 10 high school teens, aged 16 and older, drinks and drives each month, endangering themselves and others.”
The study looked at data from national surveys conduced from 1991-2011 asking student if they had driven a vehicle after drinking alcohol at least once 30 days before taking the survey.
The study also found, according to a press release issued by the CDC:
- Teens were responsible for approximately 2.4 million episodes of drinking and driving a month in 2011; some engaged in the dangerous behavior more than once a month.
- High school boys ages 18 and older were most likely to drink and drive (18 percent), while 16-year-old high school girls were least likely (6 percent).
- Eighty-five percent of teens in high school who reported drinking and driving in the past month also reported binge drinking. For the survey, binge drinking means five or more drinks during a short period of time.
“Teens learn from adults,” said Pamela Hyde, administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in a statement. “That is why it is critically important that parents, teachers, coaches and all caring adults in a young person’s life talk with them early and often about the dangers of underage alcohol use as well as drinking and driving.”
Punishments differ from state to state, and the CDC says new laws have had an effect on curbing drunken driving. In Connecticut, anyone under 21 caught with alcohol has their license suspended for up to 60 days in addition to any criminal or civil punishments.