Motor vehicle crashes are a major cause of death in the United States for youth ages 15 through 19.46 Among young Americans of driving age, the issue of alcohol-impaired driving has particular significance. In all states, the purchase of alcohol by persons under age 21
is illegal; however, in 1994, 29 percent of the 2,610 traffic fatalities involving persons ages 15 through 17 were alcohol-related. For traffic deaths involving persons ages 18 through 20, the percentage of alcohol involvement was 44 percent.47
In 1999, 36 percent of adolescents in grades 9 through 12 reported that within the month prior to the survey, they had either driven after drinking alcohol or had ridden with a driver who had been drinking alcohol (see Table SD 3.4). Since 1991, about two in five high school students have reported this level of exposure to drunk driving.
Differences by Age. Rates of exposure to drunk driving differed modestly by age. In 1999, 41 percent of 12th-grade students reported taking this risk, compared with 32 percent of 9th-grade students (see Figure SD 3.4).
Differences by Gender. In 1999, 38 percent of males and 34 percent of females reported driving after drinking alcohol or riding with someone who had been drinking (see Table SD 3.4).
Differences by Race and Hispanic Origin.48 In 1999, 42 percent of Hispanic, 36 percent of white, and 36 percent of black teens reported having been exposed to drunk driving within the past month (see Table SD 3.4).
46 Injury-related mortality (including motor vehicle crashes, fires and burns, drowning, suffocation, and accidents caused by firearms and other explosive materials, among others) accounted for 80 percent of all deaths of youth ages 15 through 19 in 1995. However, the rate of motor vehicle crash deaths among youth has been relatively constant since 1992 and has declined as a fraction of all violent deaths to teens. Preliminary data for 1996 show that motor vehicle crashes claimed 28.9 lives per 100,000 youth ages 15 through 19, compared with 43.6 per 100,000 youth in 1970. Data for 1996 are preliminary based on 85 percent of all reported deaths in 1996.
47 Update: Alcohol-Related Traffic Crashes and Fatalities among Youth and Young Adults—United States, 1982-1994. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 44: 869-874.
48 Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.
Table SD 3.4 Percentage of students in grades 9 through 12 in the United States who reported driving after drinking alcohol, or riding with a driver who had been drinking alcohol,a by gender, grade, and race and Hispanic origin: 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, and 1999
|Race and Hispanic originb|
a Within the last 30 days.
b Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.
Sources: Youth Risk Behavior Survey results, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, and 1999. Unpublished tabulations by Laura Kann, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Figure SD 3.4 Percentage of students in grades 9 through 12 in the United States who reported driving after drinking alcohol or riding with a driver who had been drinking alcohol within the past 30 days, by grade: 1999
a Within the last 30 days.
Source: Youth Risk Behavior Survey results, 1999. Unpublished tabulations by Laura Kann, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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