Fewer teenagers are driving after drinking

In the past two decades, the percentage of American high school students who drink and drive has dropped by more than half. The reason for the drop is mainly due to tougher laws against driving under the influence.

Data from a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that in 2011, 10.3 percent of high school students 16 and older reported drinking and driving in the previous 30 days. This is a major drop from 22.3 percent in 1991.

The agency credited the decline to restrictions on teenagers’ driving privileges and stricter laws against drunken driving.

Even though there was a decline, reports show that nearly a million high school students consumed alcohol before driving last year. Drinking and driving leads to more than 800 deaths among teenagers annually, and car crashes remain the leading cause of death among people aged 16 to 19.

Reports also show that males 18 and older are the most likely to drink and drive, and 16-year-old females are the least likely. Eighty-five percent of high school students who reported drinking and driving in the previous month also admitted binge drinking.

Another factor that has contributed to the decline of teenage drinking and driving is many teens are driving less due to high gas prices and the economy. From 2000 to 2010, the percentage of high school seniors who did not drive during an average week has jumped to 22 percent from 15 percent.

Researchers say that parents play a major role in ensuring that rates of teen drinking and driving continue to decrease by setting good examples for their children.

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