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Research Shows that Rules Save Lives when it Comes to Teen Drinking and Driving

two teen ladies drinking and driving

We all know that teen drivers can be hazards to themselves and others on the road. New research shows how this risk can be reduced with intervention, not only from lawmakers, but also from parents.

An expert in adolescent and addiction medicine at the Boston Medical Center, Dr. Scott Hadland has long been looking at the effect of alcohol use on teen safety on the road. According to his research, roughly half of all teen deaths in motor vehicle accidents are related at least in part to alcohol. These fatalities are not necessarily caused by the teen drivers themselves; in about half of these alcohol-influenced accidents where teens lose their lives, the driver was over 21. The risks posed by the interaction of alcohol and teens can spread to others with whom they share the road, as well. 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 designed a study that would measure what sort of impact a region’s entire system of laws affecting teen driving and alcohol had on the rate of teen fatalities in alcohol-influenced crashes. Dr. Hadland included within this study laws that directly affected teen driving, such as graduated licensing, as well as laws on how alcohol could be advertised and restrictions on alcohol sales.

Dr. Hadland’s research showed that, the more restrictions in place generally, the fewer teens died in traffic accidents caused by alcohol. Rather than one law, such as a curfew or graduated license program, having a singular impact, he explained that “it’s really the collection of them all that seems to be effective.” A fellow researcher in the field, Dr. Kirsten Bechtel of the Yale School of Medicine, noted that Dr. Hadland’s findings support earlier research: “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.”

A fellow researcher on the project, Dr. Tim Naimi, pointed out that public policies are not the only way that teen attitudes toward drinking and driving can be affected, and that parental modeling also plays an important role. “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 someone you love has been injured in a drunk driving crash in Florida or Alabama, find out if you may have a right to money damages by contacting the dedicated and determined personal injury lawyers at Whibbs Stone Barnett for a consultation at 888-219-4561, with offices in Pensacola, Ft. Walton Beach, and Fairhope, Alabama.