Study: Fewer young drivers drive drunk

Posted at 8:47 PM, Dec 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-14 22:47:43-05

A new CDC study shows fewer young drunk drivers are on the nation's roads. 

The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report says self-reported drunk drivers ages 16-20 dropped 59 percent, and drunk drivers ages 21-25 dropped 38 percent from 2002-2014.

"We have seen the level of teen drivers and young adult drivers dropping since the early 2000s, so I'm glad to hear the numbers are still down," said Wave Dreher, AAA Colorado spokesperson. "That means they are listening to us and hearing our messaging."

But, it's not just school campaigns that are making the difference. Technology is helping, too. Dreher says many millennials use their cell phones to call Uber for rides. 

"I feel like there are a lot more options out there for people now than to drive drunk," said Erin Brogan, who uses Uber. "Especially with people having designated drivers."

But not all of the new options are safe. Dreher says younger drivers are more likely to be under the influence of a different substance.

"We know that teenagers are driving under the influence of a number of drugs," said Dreher. "Some of them illegal drugs, some of them prescription drugs."

The study shows young drivers reported driving under the influence of both alcohol and marijuana declined by 39 percent in both age groups.

Car accidents are still the number one killer of young people, with one in five in their early 20's admitting to driving drunk, at least once in the last year. For teen drivers, it's around one in 15.

But even though progress is slow, it's still progress.

"We're not seeing them using their cars to socialize like they did back when I was a teenager," said Dreher.

The CDC says about six teenagers a day die from car accident injuries, amounting to more than 2,000 every year.