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Spring, the season of prom and graduation parties, can be a dangerous time for students. Alcohol-related traffic fatalities rise during these months, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Every week, 42 people under the age of 21 die in alcohol-related crashes.

Automobile crashes are the leading cause of death for teens. Approximately 36% of traffic deaths of 15- to 20-year-olds are alcohol-related.

Underage drinking is illegal.

Underage drinking makes our highways less safe, our schools less effective, and our future less certain, especially during prom and graduation season.

Heavy drinking is especially dangerous for teens, whose brains are still developing, and alcohol-related damage incurred at a young age can have long-term effects. [A study by the National Institutes for Health suggests that the region of the brain that inhibits risky behavior is not fully formed until age 25.]

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Impaired Driving

(Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and/or Drugs)

What We Know

If you drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you are breaking the law. Your judgment, reflexes, and coordination are all compromised. You will experience these effects:

  • Slow reaction time
  • Alteration of depth perception
  • Hyperactivity from a high
  • Reduction of peripheral vision
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Lack of awareness of surroundings

Impaired driving puts teens at higher risks of injury or death.

  • Alcohol-related fatality rates are nearly twice as great for 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds as for those over age 21.
  • Young drivers are less likely than adults are to drive after drinking alcohol, but their crash risks are substantially higher when they do. This risk is especially true at low and moderate blood alcohol concentrations and is thought to result from teens’ relative inexperience as new drivers.
  • The 2002 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse revealed that the rate of drugged driving increased with each year of age, peaking among 19-year-olds at 16% and generally decreased with increasing age among those age 20 or older.

More than 16,000 people die every year in alcohol- and drug-related crashes. Every 53 minutes, someone is killed and every two minutes someone is injured. These are not accidents ? they are violent crimes and should be referred to that way.

To save more lives and reach the goal of reducing driving-related deaths, we must generate a greater nationwide urgency to stop death and injury on our nation’s roads. Drunk and drugged driving crashes account for more than one million injuries and $45 billion in medical- and damage-related costs to society every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The good news is that impaired driving is completely preventable and can be averted in many ways. Browse through the links below to learn more and to find ways you can address impaired driving in your community.

Information provided by SSAD.org.