WASHINGTON, DC–Educating students about the dangerous consequences of drunk driving and underage drinking is paying off. A new analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of 1991 to 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS) revealed that drinking and driving among high school students has declined 54% over the past two decades, decreasing from 22% in 1991 to 10% in 2011.
In 2010, 2,211 16-19 year olds died in motor vehicle crashes; 58% of those youths were driving. Furthermore, one in five 16-19 year old drivers involved in a fatal crash had a positive blood alcohol concentration (BAC), and among those 81% had a BAC level of .08 or higher.
According the report, “substantial progress has been made during the past two decades to reduce drinking and driving among teens.” The Century Council, funded by America’s leading distillers, has been at the forefront in the fight against drunk driving across the United Sates since its founding in 1991. The drop can be attributed to various policy changes as well as educational programs. Some of the policy changes included instituting a legal drinking age of 21 and implementing strict “zero-tolerance” laws establishing lower maximum blood alcohol content levels for drivers under 21.
There are many contributing factors to the decrease in drunk driving among teens over the past 20 years and The Century Council is proud to play a role and will continue to develop partnerships and innovative programs to further reduce teen drunk driving. The Century Council aims to introduce more teens to innovative educational programs like the I Know Everything initiative to further reduce drinking and driving among teens. I Know Everything was developed by The Century Council in partnership with the Virginia Supreme Court as a resource for Virginia judges to use during driver’s licensing ceremonies and for other stakeholders to use as a supplement to their teen driving safety efforts. The program offers judges the latest national data, provides relevant safety messages for teens and their parents and leaves a lasting impression on teen drivers.
“A 54% decrease in drunk driving among teens is an impressive statistic and we should all be proud of the progress made. Everyone involved in the fight against drunk driving should use this not as a place to pause and reflect on the journey to get to this point, but use it as a way to rally the troops to come up with more ways to decrease it even further,” said Ralph Blackman, President and CEO of The Century Council. “It’s our hope that the I Know Everything initiative can be expanded upon and implemented in other states and make drunk driving a thing of the past.”
The CDC’s report is a positive indicator of the gains being made to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, drunk driving, yet our work remains unfinished. Parents need to talk with their teen driver and share their values that drinking and driving is not acceptable, establish rules for when they drive, and make sure they truly understand the consequences of underage drinking and drinking and driving.
The Century Council
The Century Council, is a national not-for-profit leader in the fight to eliminate drunk driving and underage drinking and is funded by the following distillers: Bacardi U.S.A., Inc.; Beam, Inc.; Brown-Forman; Constellation Brands, Inc.; DIAGEO; Hood River Distillers, Inc.; and Pernod Ricard USA. Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, The Century Council promotes responsible decision making regarding beverage alcohol and develops and implements innovative programs and public awareness campaigns which ignite action through strategic partnerships. Established in 1991, The Century Council’s initiatives are highlighted on its website at www.centurycouncil.org and www.asklistenlearn.org.
(202)637-0077 or MoffattD@centurycouncil.org