Reining in Teens’ Nighttime Drunken Driving Could Reduce Fatal Crashes

The worst cases of drunken driving mostly take place at night. And a majority of those who are behind the wheel and are involved in such fatal crashes are teens who are heavily inebriated. According to the recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one-third of fatal crashes involving teens happen at night, of which 57 percent occur before midnight.

Keeping in view this trend, federal health officials are of the opinion that putting brakes on teens’ driving habit, especially after midnight, would result in a significant drop in such fatal crashes.

Teens and DUI

Most of the teens involved in fatal crashes are under the influence of alcohol. Hence, it is also imperative that apart from forbidding teens to drive after midnight, they should also be completely barred from driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol.

The report, based on data from 2009–2014, revealed that 31 percent drivers, aged 16 and 17, who were involved in fatal crashes had them between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. And 60 percent of these collisions occurred between 9 p.m. and midnight.

Driving at night is difficult and challenging for everyone due to greater risks of fatal crashes. In case of inexperienced and drunk teens, it is even more precarious. Ironically, just 26 American states have laws in place that restrict teens from driving after midnight.

“Driving at night is especially challenging for teens because of their inexperience, so every state except Vermont has nighttime driving restrictions,” said lead author Ruth Shults, a senior epidemiologist in the division of unintentional injury prevention at the CDC.

She said that previous research had corroborated the facts that imposing restrictions on teen drivers after 10 p.m. definitely saves lives and reduces injury.

However, she is not alone to voice such an opinion. Fatal crashes mostly occur much before midnight, as emergency hospital visits indicate. Majority of them are also sloshed. Hence, many call for this embargo to start even earlier in the evening. It is high time that state legislators amend nighttime driving laws to prevent mishaps, Shults said.

Other potential causes

Apart from drunken driving causing fatal crashes at night, other reasons, like distracted driving, also cause a lot of these collisions, the report said. Using smartphones while driving has led to many fatal accidents on the roads. It has become a kind of an irritant on the roads. Reluctance to fasten seat belts is also a major cause for serious injuries.

The researchers claim that barring a few states, including Kansas, New York, and North Carolina, which begin their nighttime restrictions at 9 p.m., all other states are quite lax and start their restriction timings much later.

Moreover, parents of teens with new licenses need to be familiar with the requirements of the graduated driver licensing system, Shults said.

“Families are free to set that restriction earlier if they feel 9 or 11 is too late,” she said. “Young people need many hours of driving at night before they are proficient, so parents should spend as many hours as they can be riding along in the car with that teen driver at night.”

Alcohol addiction and recovery roadmap

Sensible driving without the influence of alcohol would rarely cause any collision on the road. But, the discerning power of an alcoholic is always at its lowest ebb. Such is the predicament of alcohol and alcoholism.

However, alcoholism is a treatable condition with the right intervention programs. Hence, you need not cringe if you have an alcoholic at home. You may contact the Colorado Alcohol Addiction Help for an immediate assistance. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 866–592–9261 for information about alcohol addiction treatment centers in Colorado. So, avail alcohol addiction treatment in Colorado and look for a life of sobriety. rts

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