New data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that underage DUI rates have tapered off over the last 14 years.
The CDC analyzed yearly findings compiled in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Survey of Drug Use and Health to get a better understanding of the landscape of impaired driving in underage individuals. The study looked at the number of adolescents who were arrested for DUI for alcohol, marijuana or both between the years of 2002 and 2014. They tracked young adults between the age of 16 and 21, but they also looked at DUI rates in the first four years after a person hits the legal drinking age.
Young People and DUIs
After looking at the collection of data from 2002 to 2014, researchers uncovered:
- A 59 percent decrease in DUIs in individuals between the age of 16 and 20.
- A 38 percent decrease in DUIs in individuals between the age of 21 and 25.
- The rate of drinking and driving increased as a teen aged, peaking at the age of 21-years-old.
- Driving under the influence of marijuana fell from 2.3 percent to 1.4 percent in adolescents aged 16 to 20 years, and it fell from 3.1 percent to 1.9 percent in adults aged 21 to 25 years.
Researchers concluded that efforts to raise awareness about the dangers of driving under the influence have been successful over the past decade, but there’s still work to be done. Researchers suggested that improved field testing for the presence of marijuana are needed to continue keeping roads safe.
“Enforcing effective public health intervention, such as minimum legal drinking age laws, prohibition of driving with any alcohol level greater than 0 for persons aged over 21 years, and roadside testing are important for maintaining the declining trends in driving under the influence of alcohol in the United States,” researchers wrote. “Similar interventions might be useful to prevent driving under the influence of other substances, such as marijuana. In addition, improved field testing for marijuana use and standards for driving impairment may be needed in order to ensure public road safety.”