Drivers between 16-20 are 17 times more likely to die in a crash when they have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% compared to when they have not been drinking
The problem of driving under the influence of alcohol:
- Young drivers are less likely than adults to drive after drinking alcohol, but their crash risk is substantially higher when they do. This is especially true at low and moderate blood alcohol concentrations (BACs)1.
- In the most recent survey, 16.5 percent of high school students 16 and older reported riding with a driver who had been drinking alcohol in the past 30 days2.
- Drivers are less likely to use restraints when they have been drinking3.
- In 2016, 12% of 16-17 year older drivers involved in fatal crashes had a BAC greater than .084.
- Most of those killed in alcohol-related crashes involving teen drivers are the young drivers themselves and their passengers3.
Zero Tolerance Law and other consequences of driving under the influence:
- Zero tolerance law makes it illegal per se (in and of itself) for persons under the age of 21 to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their blood3.
- Violators of underage drinking laws often face a trip to jail, the loss of their driver’s license, and dozens of other unanticipated expenses including attorney fees, court costs, and other fines3.
- A DUI conviction follows a teen, so there is the added embarrassment, humiliation, and potential loss and consequence related to academic eligibility, college acceptance, scholarship awards, and more3.
- Increased efforts by local law enforcement make the chances of getting caught even greater3.
- The Texas Department of Transportation conducted a study which found that a first time offender could expect to pay between $5,000 and $24,000 for DWI arrest and conviction.
- In 2015, the most recent year for which data are available, NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis
Reporting System (FARS) reported that drugs were present in 43% of the fatally-injured
drivers with a known test result, more frequently than alcohol was present5.
- Marijuana is by far the most common drug used, found in roadside surveys, and found in fatally injured drivers5.
- Drug-impaired driving is more complex than alcohol-impaired driving for many reasons5.
The Effects of Drugged Driving
- Alprazolam (Xanax XR, Niravam), is an anti-anxiety medication in the benzodiazepine family, the same family that includes diazepam (Valium), clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), flurazepam (Dalmane), and others. These medications are downers and can cause confusion, blurry vision and vertigo. Not good effects to get behind the wheel.
- Amphetamine and dextroamphetamine (Adderall) is used for treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Amphetamines stimulate the brain by increasing the level of neurotransmitters, dopamine and norepinephrine, in the brain. While it may boost your ego, adderall can increase your heart rate, and puts drivers at risk for having a seizure or stroke.
- The effects of MDMA can be confusion, severe anxiety and decreased motor skills. Taking any drug can impair your driving skills, putting you and others more at risk for a car crash.
- OxyContin (oxycodone) is an opioid pain medication. Painkills are one of the most commonly abused drugs by teens, after tabacco, alcohol and marijuana. Opioids are highly addictive and can cause nausea, confusion, and breathing problems.
- Not only will driving under the influence of marijuana earn you a DUI, but it will significantly impair judgement, motor coordination, and reaction time – perfect for causing a crash.
What to do about impaired driving:
- Driving after even one drink is just not worth it. Ride with a sober friend, ask someone else to drive or call a parent or older sibling.
- Driving after one puff or consuming eatible marijuana (THC) is not worth risking your life and the life of others on the road. Find a sober ride by taking a cab, rideshare or public transportation.
- Food, coffee or exercise will not reduce the effects of alcohol or drugs in your system. Only time decreases the effects of alcohol and drugs.
- Don’t believe you can “fool” a police officer. They are trained to look for tale-tell signs of a driver who is under the influence.
- If a friend has been drinking or taking drugs and is about to drive, SPEAK UP. Offer to drive, take the keys, or call a parent.
- Never get in the car with a driver who has been drinking or doing drugs. Everyone reacts differently. Always assume that person is too impaired to drive. Follow that Better Safe Than Sorry mantra.
- Voas, R.B.; Torres, P.; Romano, E.; and Lacey, J.H. 2012. Alcohol-related risk of driver fatalities: an update using 2007 data. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 73(3):341-350.
- Center for Disease Control, 2017. Youth risk behavior surveillance. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reporthttps://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/pdf/trends/2017_unintentional_injury_trend_yrbs.pdf
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
- GHSA Drug Impaired Driving: A Guide for States http://www.ghsa.org/sites/default/files/2017-07/GHSA_DruggedDriving2017_FINAL_revised.pdf