The percentage of teens in high school (aged 16 or older) who drove when they had been drinking alcohol decreased by 54 percent between 1991 and 2011, according to a recent Vital Signs study. Nine out of 10 high school teens were not drinking and driving during 2011, the study reported.
1. Teens were responsible for approximately 2.4 million episodes of drinking and driving a month in 2011; some engaged in the dangerous behavior more than once a month.
2. High school boys ages 18 and older were most likely to drink and drive (18 percent), while 16-year-old high school girls were least likely (6 percent).
3. Eighty-five percent of teens in high school who reported drinking and driving in the past month also reported binge drinking. For YRBS, binge drinking means five or more drinks during a short period of time.
Many efforts have been helping to reduce teen drinking and driving. Some proven, effective strategies include minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) laws, zero tolerance laws, and graduated driver licensing (GDL) systems. Parents also have a crucial role to play in keeping their teens safe on the road. They can model safe driving behavior and set and enforce the “rules of the road” by completing a parent-teen driving agreement with their teens. Safe driving habits for teens include never drinking and driving, following state GDL laws, and wearing a seat belt on every trip. ■