The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration collects statistics on impaired driving and publishes them for use by government agencies, law enforcement and the public. According to a NHTSA report, 1 in 3 people will have their lives touched by a DUI-related incident, whether as a victim, witness or offender. The report also went on to conclude that men are twice as likely than women to have a blood alcohol content over .08, in cases of fatal motor vehicle crashes.
Underage drinkers, children and teens are particularly vulnerable, historically. During 2002, about twenty-five percent of fatal accidents involved teens aged 15 to 20 who had been drinking alcohol. Staggeringly, about 22% of crashes in which children died, involved alcohol.
Ten years later NHTSA's updated statistics paint an even bleaker picture for younger drivers, despite the fact that fatal alcohol-related crashes overall have been on a steady decline. The most vulnerable age group for fatal DUI crashes is the 21-24 year-olds. Thirty Two percent of those drivers involved in fatal crashes had a BAC over .08.
A significant number of my clients fall into the 18-25 age range. Many are college students coming back from a night out on South Beach or a football game. This group is particularly susceptible to DUI arrests for several reasons: Group pressure to drink or do drugs in excess, poor judgment /decision making and lack of driving experience.
Interestingly, texting while driving is six times more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol. NHTSA studies reflect that texting takes a driver’s eyes off the road for about five seconds. At 55 mph, imagine driving a regulation American football field with your eyes closed.
Teen drivers are the most vulnerable to this behavior. According to NHTSA's 2009 studies, over 15 percent of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted and texting has replaced drunk driving as the leading cause of accidents.
The responsibility rests on parents to speak to their kids about these dangers and to formulate a contract with them, such as the one below, to make the family accountable to each other for responsible driving behaviors.
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