Teenage drunk driving worst in Arkansas, Louisiana as study links road fatalities to student tipplers
Drunk-driving fatalities in the US represent almost a third of all driving fatalities.
By Shubham Ghosh
October 8, 2019
The National Minimum Legal Drinking Act, 1984, mandates that one has to be 21 years of age in the US to consume alcohol. If the rule is found to be violated, then there is also provision for strong punishment. But yet, underage drinking and consequences related to it like health disorders and accidents are still a major problem in the US. As per the National Survey on Drug Use and Health of 2015, a large number of teenagers aged between 12 and 17 were found to be suffering from alcohol-related disorders (623,000 of them) making up 2.5 percent of people in that particular age group. Of these teenagers, more are females (325,000).
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while 3.1 percent of adults report controlling the wheels after too much drinking, 5.5 percent of teenagers have reportedly driven after drinking any alcohol.
One good news is that the statistics have shown an improvement over the years. In 1991, the percentage of teenagers who reportedly used alcohol was more than 50. In 2017, the percentage came down to less than 30. In terms of teens riding a vehicle driven by a drunk driver, the percentage was 16.5 in 2017 compared to 40 two-half-decades earlier.
Drunk-driving fatalities in the US represent almost a third of all driving fatalities. In 2017, a total number of 37,133 road accidents were reported and out of them, 10,874 saw the drivers having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.
If one breaks it down to the state level, there is a correlation between state-level drunk driving fatality rates and the proportion of students from high schools who drive under the influence of drinking. It has been reported that states with larger shares of high-school students who drink and drive see more deaths related to drunk-driving per capita. In Utah, for instance, only 2.8 percent of high-school students report drunk-driving and the number of drunk-driving-related traffic deaths per 100,000 people in the state is only 1.7 percent. In Arkansas, the corresponding figures are 10.7 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively. The national average of drunk-driving deaths per 100,000 people is 3.4.
Researchers at CheapCarInsuranceQuotes.com broke down data received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention High School Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System to rank the states from the worst upwards in terms of teens most unlikely to drive under the influence of alcohol. The ranking was done by the percentage of teens who reported driving after drinking one or more times in the past month.
Some of the states ranked bottom up
Arkansas was ranked the worst among the 15 ranked states with 10.7 percent of teens driving while drinking; 26.3 percent of teens riding a vehicle driven by a drinking driver; 25.7 percent of teens who drank alcohol; 3.1 percent of adults who drove after heavy drinking and 4.8 deaths caused by drunk driving per 100,000 people.
Louisiana was ranked second-worst with 10 percent of teens driving while drinking; 28.2 percent of teens rode a vehicle driven by a drinking driver; 34 percent of teens drank alcohol; 4.6 percent of adults drove after getting drunk, and 4.7 deaths caused by drunk-driving per 100,000 people.
In the third-worst place was Montana where teens driving while drinking was found to be 7.6 percent; teens who rode with a drunk driver, 19.8 percent; teens who consumed alcohol, 33.1 percent; adults who drove under the heavy influence of alcohol, 3.7 and traffic fatalities caused by drunk driving at 5.4 per 100,000 people.
The best-ranked among the 15 states is Idaho with six percent teens driving while drinking; 15.9 percent of teens who traveled in a vehicle steered by a drunk driver; 26.5 percent of teens who drank alcohol; 2.9 percent of adults who drove after having drunk highly, and 3.5 deaths caused by drunk driving per 100,000 people.
Arizona and Connecticut are the second and third best-ranking states with 6.2 and 6.3 percent of teens driving while drinking, respectively.