The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced some good news last week: the percentage of teenagers that are drinking and driving has dropped 54 percent over the last 20 years. Although that statistic is good news, any amount of teenage drinking and driving is discouraging.

CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden reports that while nine out of ten high school teens are not drinking and driving, almost a million high school teens age 16 and over drove after drinking alcohol in 2011. Slightly more than 10 percent of American teens reported drinking and driving in 2011. In addition, nearly 85 percent of those students also binge drank.

According to the press release, Vital Signs: Drinking and Driving Among High School Students Aged ≥16 Years — United States, 1991–2011—the CDC’s latest report on teen drinking—was assembled after data from the 1991–2011 national Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS) was analyzed to explain the trend in prevalence of drinking and driving (defined as driving one or more times when they had been drinking alcohol during the 30 days before the survey) among high school students aged ≥16 years in the United States.

The researchers reported that young individuals who get behind the wheel after consuming any amount or form of alcohol pose to be an inordinate risk—not only to themselves, but to their passengers and the other individuals on the road.

According to the report, the relative risk of a driver aged 16–20 years dying in a crash is estimated to more than double for every 0.02% increase in BAC. Also young drivers are 17 times more likely to die in car crash with a BAC of .08 compared to when they have not been drinking.

The NHTSA or National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that vehicular accidents are the primary cause of fatalities among teenagers in America. According to the NHTSA, American teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes compared to other drivers.

The CDC and other government agencies urge parents and their teens to focus on driving safely and to consider creating a pact agreeing to always drive safely. Our Treasure Coast car accident attorneys just reported that children learn poor driving behaviors from their parents, so safe driving initiatives need to come from all family members.

The CDC suggests families create an agreement between parents and their teenagers that define and enforce road rules for their newly licensed teenagers, which includes following all state GDL provisions, always wearing a seat belt, and never drinking and driving.

Our Treasure Coast car accident lawyers urge parents to educate their teens not only about the extreme risks involved in drinking alcohol, but the dangers posed to everyone when they drive after drinking. We agree with Frieden when he asks “parents to lead by example as safe drivers.”

About Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney

The law firm of Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, has provided professional and compassionate legal assistance to personal injury and accident victims in South Florida on the Treasure Coast since 1975. The firm’s practice areas include car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, swimming pool accidents, dog bite injuries, medical malpractice, product liability, slip and fall injuries, and wrongful death claims.

The firm represents clients throughout the South Florida communities of Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and Vero Beach and across the state of Florida. For more information, call (800) 299-8878 or use the firm’s online contact form.