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A new study by researchers with the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that between 2002 and 2014, drunk driving dropped by 59 percent among those aged 16 to 20 and by 38 percent among those aged 21 to 25. The study also showed significant drops in the same age groups for impaired driving involving both alcohol and marijuana. The numbers are based on self-reported behavior by teens and young adults.

No One Factor Responsible

The study authors speculated that the drop in alcohol-impaired driving could be linked to a number of factors, including a decline in binge drinking among high school students, better enforcement of underage drinking laws, and graduated licensing laws for young drivers.

However, despite the good news the study also showed areas for improvement. Rates of drunk driving increase significantly with age: only 1.5 percent of 16-year-olds reported driving drunk, compared to 18 percent of 21-year-olds did.

Drugged vs. Drunk Driving

And the study showed little decline in impaired driving related to marijuana alone—reinforcing concerns about the increasing prevalence of drugged driving. Some speculate while years of public awareness campaigns have driven home the dangers of drinking and driving, similar messaging around cannabis is still in its infancy. As such, many teens and young adults mistakenly believe that there are few risks associated with driving after consuming marijuana.

Researchers hope that this latest round of data will help states and organizations continue to refine their efforts to discourage impaired driving among young drivers.

Sobering Up Administrator

Sobering Up Administrator

Sobering Up: A blog about drunk driving, alcohol addiction, and criminal justice, is anything but a corporate blog. Sobering Up is an opportunity for anyone interested or involved in the issues of drunk driving, alcohol-fueled crime, alcohol dependence and addiction, and the justice system to participate in the conversation.

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