Gas Prices Are Keeping Drunk Teens Off The Road
October 3, 2012

Teen Drunk Driving Rates Dropping Thanks To Higher Gas Prices

John Neumann for - Your Universe Online

After years of public education by MADD and school groups dedicated to keeping teens sober, the rate of drinking and driving among US teens has fallen 54 percent in the past two decades. However the public service campaigns are not believed to be causing the drop as much as a new trend is.

Higher gas prices, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are keeping high school students off the road whether they are drunk or not, reports Elizabeth Lopatto for Bloomberg.

Ten percent of high school students reported drinking and driving in 2011, compared with 22 percent in 1991, according to the report. Young people ages 16 to 20 are 17 times more likely to die in a crash when their blood alcohol is .08 percent, the legal limit in many states, reports the CDC.

Driving among teens dropped substantially from 2000-2010, as the proportion of high school seniors who didn´t get behind the wheel during an average week increased to 22 percent from 15 percent, according to the CDC.

The results come from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, a voluntary and anonymous, self-administered questionnaire that included identically worded questions about drinking and driving, current alcohol use and binge drinking.

Administered by the CDC, the survey monitors behaviors that contribute to injuries and violence, sexual behaviors, alcohol and drug use, tobacco use, unhealthy diets and physical activity. The samples varied from about 10,900 to 16,400 each year.

“Teens are especially sensitive to increases in gasoline prices and declines in economic conditions, which might have decreased their miles driven since 2007,” the report said.

The survey found that male students were more likely to drink and drive than females. High school boys ages 18 and older were the most likely to drink after consuming alcohol, and 16-year-old high school girls were least likely.

Eleven percent of white students and 12 percent of Hispanic students reported driving after drinking, compared with 7 percent of black students. The prevalence of drinking and driving was 3 times higher in those students who reported drinking five or more drinks in one sitting than in those who reported alcohol use without binge drinking.

“As a parent of a teen I know that there´s nothing worse than having your child die tragically and preventably,” said Thomas Frieden, the director of the CDC, in a conference call. “Reducing drinking and driving is something we can do” to reduce unnecessary deaths, he said.