A promising new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the number of teens who drink and drive has decreased by nearly 54 percent in the past two decades. When polled in 1991, 22.3 percent of high school students sixteen years and older admitted to drinking and driving, compared to the 2011 study, which showed a drop to 10.3 percent of students.
The decline is attributed to several factors, the most prominent: stringent laws. The agency reports that new laws that increase punishments for drunk driving and place greater restrictions on teen driving privileges, such as curfews for young drivers, are working to curb drunk driving. Another factor, the agency believes, is a decrease in student driving, thanks in part to rising gasoline prices and the problematic economy.
Still, car crashes remain the leading cause of death in students ages 16 to 19, with drunk driving contributing to more than 800 teen deaths per year.
“We’ve seen really good progress,” says a member of the agency. “We’re moving in the right direction, but we need to keep up the momentum.”