Underage Drivers Are Separating Drinking From Driving

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From 1985 to 1995, drivers younger than 21 years experienced a 50% drop in fatal crashes involving alcohol. This study addresses whether the decrease is explained by young drivers' drinking less or by their separating drinking from driving.


Nighttime roadside surveys were conducted in 3 communities to test drivers' breath and administer questionnaires on drinking practices. From 1992 to 1996, 34898 drivers (21% of whom were younger than 21 years) were interviewed.


Although drivers younger than 21 years were more likely to have consumed 6 or more drinks on at least 1 occasion during the previous month, a smaller percentage of younger drivers than of older drivers had blood alcohol concentrations of 0.01 or higher.


Younger drivers are more likely than drivers older than 21 years to separate drinking from driving. (Am J Public Health. 1999;89:755-757)

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