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CDC: Teen drinking and driving rates down 54 percent since 1991

Drinking and driving rates among teens 16 and older declined by 54 percent from 1991 to 2011, according to researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The good news is that nine out of ten kids are not drinking and driving,” Dr. Ann Dellinger of the CDC told the Daily News. “But that leaves nearly a million young drivers engaging in 2.4 million episodes per month of drinking and driving. And the vast majority of those kids are binge drinking when they do drink.”

The study examined data from the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, which includes national surveys given to students in grades nine through 12. “Teens were asked whether they had operated a motor vehicle after drinking alcohol one or more times during the 30 days before answering the survey,” CNN noted.

“While the report shows progress has been made during the last 20 years in reducing teen drinking and driving, driving among teens also declined during the past decade,” CNN reported.

The study found that 10.3 percent of teens reported drinking and driving in 2011, compared to 22.3 percent in 1991. Nearly 12 percent of male students were more likely to be drinking and driving, compared to nearly 9 percent of female students.

The drastic drop is due to social awareness and safety laws implemented in the past twenty years — such as graduated driver’s licensing systems and zero tolerance policies — and increased parental involvement, the Daily News reported.

“The study authors attributed the decline in teen drinking and driving to two possible factors. First, they wrote, alcohol use and binge drinking are less common among adolescents than they were in the late 1990s. Also, driving has declined significantly: The proportion of high school seniors who did not drive in an average week increased by a third from 2000 to 2010. The authors suggested this was a result of high gas prices and of graduated licensing systems and other driving restrictions that have kept kids off the roads,” Los Angeles Times reported.

Rachel Lowry is a reporter intern for the Deseret News. She has lived in London and is an English graduate from Brigham Young University. Contact her at or visit