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Research Reveals Extent to which Alcohol is Dangerous to Teen Safety

Teen attempting to drive under the influence

The average parent doesn’t need to be told to worry about the dangerous effect of alcohol on their teenager’s wellbeing. That said, new research shows the profound effect that alcohol has on teens’ fatality rates on US road. However, the research also shows that, the more strictures that parents and lawmakers place on alcohol sale and teen driving, the less likely those teens are to suffer major injuries in a car accident.

Dr. Scott Hadland of the Boston Medical Center has been looking at the dangerous combination of alcohol, teens, and cars for years. Dr. Hadland has found that about half of all teen motor vehicle deaths involve alcohol use in some way. Surprisingly, only about half of these alcohol-involved accidents involve a drunk teen driver; the remainder of drunk drivers are over 21, but they are often on the road at peak times for teen drivers as well. Certain times of day are more likely than others for these alcohol-related teen deaths on the road. Dr. Hadland explained, “the vast majority of people under the age of 21 dying in car crashes are dying in evenings, on weekends. It’s a high risk time to be out on the road.”

Dr. Hadland sought to discover how the array of laws governing teen driving and alcohol use, as well as the laws governing alcohol sales more generally, affected teen roadway fatality rates. Dr. Hadland included all manner of laws governing alcohol sales, as well as graduated licensing or curfew laws for teen drivers, to determine if highly-regulated areas of the country experienced any difference in teen roadway fatality rates. Dr. Hadland discovered that, the more rules there were in place, the less likely it was for teens to die on the road. Rather than attributing reduced fatality rates to one particular law or another, Dr. Hadland concluded that the higher the number of laws, the more teens that survived, noting that “it’s really the collection of them all that seems to be effective.”

One fellow researcher in the field, Dr. Kirsten Bechtel, explained that Dr. Hadland’s findings were in line with other research in the field: “Restricting access to the opportunity for unsafe behavior through legislation has been shown to be a successful public health approach to reducing preventable injuries and deaths.”

Not only are laws important in shaping teen behavior, but parental guidance is critical in shaping teens’ attitudes toward alcohol. Dr. Tim Naimi, one of Dr. Hadland’s co-researchers on the project, explained that parental modeling has a huge effect on how teens view alcohol use. “What parents do — the way they drink and whether they drink at all — is more important than what they might say about alcohol.” He added, “a lot more than genetics runs in families.”

If you or your child were injured in a crash in Alabama, find out if you have a claim for money damages for your injuries by contacting the experienced and successful Mobile personal injury lawyer Gary Fillingim for a consultation, at 251-445-7257.

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