According to the Center for Disease Control the percentage of high school teens who drink and drive has decreased by more than 50% since 1991. Despite this positive trend, more needs to be done to reduce the likelihood of an impaired teen driving. Nearly one million high school teens drank alcohol and got behind the wheel in 2011. Teen drivers are 3 times more likely than more experienced drivers to be in a fatal crash. Drinking any alcohol greatly increases this risk.
Although fewer teens are drinking and driving, this risky behavior is still a major threat to everyone on the road.
- Drinking and driving among high school teens has dropped 54% since 1991. Still, high school teens drive after drinking approximately 2.4 million times a month.
- 85% of teens in high school who report drinking and driving in the past month also report binge drinking, defined as having 5 or more alcoholic drinks within two hours.
- 1 in 5 teen drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2010 had alcohol in their system. Most (81%) had BAC’s higher than the legal limit of .08%.
Preventing Teen Drinking and Driving – What Works:
Research shows factors that help keep teens safe include parental involvement, minimum legal drinking age and zero tolerance laws, and graduated driver licensing systems.
- Minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) laws in every state make it illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under age 21. Enforcing MLDA laws through alcohol retailer compliance checks reduces retail sales of alcohol to minors.
- Zero tolerance laws: It is illegal in every state for those under age 21 to drive after drinking any alcohol. Research has shown zero tolerance laws have reduced the number of alcohol related crashes involving teens.
- Graduated driver licensing (GDL) systems help new drivers get more experience under less risky conditions. As teens move through stages, they gain privileges, such as driving at night or driving with passengers. Every state has a GDL system, but specific rules vary. Research indicates GDL systems prevent crashes and save lives.
- Parental involvement, which focuses on monitoring and restricting what new drivers are allowed to do, keep new drivers safe as they learn to drive. Research has shown that when parents establish and enforce the “rules of the road,” new drivers report lower rates of risky driving, traffic violations, and crashes.
The percentage of teens in high school, aged 16 years or older, who drink and drive has decreased by more than half.
 High school students aged 16 years and older who, when surveyed, said they had driven a vehicle one or more times during the past 30 days when they had been drinking alcohol.