Teen Drunk Driving is Decreasing, According to Recent Study

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Drinking and driving is dangerous for people

Since the 1980s, organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), and Fathers Against Drunk Driving (FADD) have been working to decrease the number of teens driving under the influence of alcohol.

Although it took a few decades for their lessons to impact America’s youth and young adults, results from a study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) prove that the teenagers of this generation are less likely to drink and get behind the wheel.

Underage drinking and smoking has reached an all-time low

According to National Public Radio (NPR), in 2002 16.6 percent of young adults from ages 16 to 20 drove under the influence of alcohol. Comparatively, only 6.6 percent of young adults did the same in 2014.

Aside from drinking and driving, underage drinking has decreased overall. The Chicago Tribune reported that in 1975—when most states had a legal drinking age of 18—68 percent of high school seniors were drinking and 37 percent of them were smoking cigarettes. Today, the smoking rates have fallen to an estimated 11 percent and underage drinking dropped by nearly half.

No decrease in teens driving after smoking marijuana

While underage drinking and teen drunk driving has improved significantly, the SAMHSA study has found that the number of people driving after using illegal drugs is still a problem—an issue that is oftentimes overlooked, but can lead to life-altering consequences.

In the study conducted by SAMHSA, the participants were asked if they only drank, drank and smoked marijuana, or only smoked marijuana before choosing to drive. The researched indicated that while there was a decrease in the number of young adults driving under the influence of alcohol or alcohol and marijuana, there wasn’t much of a change in driving under the influence of marijuana alone.

However, the findings were said to be limited and up for interpretation, since the wording used for the participants was a little vague. The study specifically asked if participants had driven while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs. Since marijuana has been legalized in some states, participants may have excluded marijuana and only included other illegal substances.

Although driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a dangerous maneuver, the combination of both is especially lethal. Any decrease in the usage is positive. Additionally, this study reinforces that programs that focus on keeping young adults drug and alcohol-free are certainly making a difference.

If you or someone you know has been injured or killed due to the reckless behavior of a driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol, contact the knowledgeable and experienced New Jersey car accident attorneys of Eisbrouch Marsh for a free case evaluation. Consultations are private and will help you understand your legal rights. Call 201-342-5545.


  1. NPR, This Generation Of Teens Is Drinking And Driving Less, http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/12/11/459219878/this-generation-of-teens-is-drinking-and-driving-less
  2. The Washington Post, Good news, America! There are fewer drunk teens on the road today., https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/12/10/good-news-america-there-are-fewer-drunk-teens-on-the-road-today/
  3. Chicago Tribune, Teen alcohol, cigarette use at 40-year low but pot bucks trend: survey, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-teen-drug-use-survey-met-20151221-story.html