Recent Decrease Seen in U.S. High School Drinking and Driving

From 1991 to 2011, 54 percent decrease; prevalence ranges across states from 4.6 to 14.5 percent

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 3 (HealthDay News) -- The national prevalence of drinking and driving among high school students decreased by 54 percent from 1991 to 2011, with a national prevalence of 10.3 percent noted in 2011, according to a study published in the Oct. 2 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report.

Ruth A Shults, Ph.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues reviewed trends in the prevalence of drinking and driving among U.S. high school students aged 16 years or older using data from the 1991 to 2011 national Youth Risk Behavior Surveys. Differences were noted for selected subgroups and prevalence was estimated in 41 states in 2011.

The researchers found that during 1991 to 2011 there was a 54 percent decrease in the national prevalence of self-reported drinking and driving, from 22.3 to 10.3 percent. In 2011, the majority (84.6 percent) of students who drove after drinking also binge drank. Across 41 states there was a three-fold variation in the prevalence of drinking and driving, from 4.6 percent in Utah to 14.5 percent in North Dakota, with a higher prevalence clustered among states along the Gulf Coast and in the upper Midwest.

"The findings in this report indicate that substantial progress has been made during the past two decades to reduce drinking and driving among teens," the authors write. "However, the findings point to the need to further reduce teen access to alcohol and reduce opportunities to drink and drive."

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