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California Teens Lack Concern over Dangers of Driving Drunk

California Teens Lack Concern over Dangers of Driving Drunk

The Sacramento Bee reports that roughly 25 percent of fatal accidents involving teen drivers happen after the teen has been drinking alcohol, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The SacBee referenced the 2012-13 California Healthy Kids Survey specific to drinking and drunk driving among Sacramento 11th-graders. Statistics showed that, of the 56% of Sacramento City students who have had a drink, one in four have knocked back a drink in the past 30 days, and 20% have either driven after drinking or ridden in a car with a drunken friend. Further, 26% of students affirmed they have used alcohol on school property.

By comparison, the 2008-09 California Healthy Kids Survey reports San Diego Unified School District with 46% of grade 11 students having been very drunk or sick after drinking alcohol. In addition, 70% admitted to having, at minimum, one full drink by that same age, and 37% had a drink within the prior 30 days. 25% admitted to binge drinking, defined as five or more drinks on one occasion, in the previous 30 days. As for driving drunk, 35% of San Diego Unified students disclosed having driven after drinking or riding in a car with a friend who had been drinking.

The California DMV reports all “alcohol-involved fatalities” at 1,489 in 2007 – a 20.7% increase from 2000 -and Juvenile DUI suspensions at 1061 in 2007 – a 43% increase over eight years.

In 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control website, across the nation “there were approximately 189,000 emergency room visits by persons under age 21 for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol.”

One recent incident of teen drunk driving in Vacaville, CA resulted in injuries and fatalities and was reported on KCRA News. A friend of victims in the car that was hit, Edgar Escalante, appeared in the report stating, “When you’re young you don’t realize how serious life can really get. One mistake can cost your life.” The KCRA reporter said, “CHP says this accident could have been prevented.” The reporter asked Escalante, “The investigators say speed and alcohol were factors in the crash. Does that surprise you at all?” Escalante replied, “When you’re young, ya know, you’re just tryin’ to have fun. Whatever happened, happened, ya know. Mistakes were made.”

The California Healthy Kids Survey also recorded, as shown in a graphic below from the survey, San Diego 11th-grade students’ response to the question “how much risk of physical and other harm is involved when drinking occasionally?” to which 17% responded “None,” 33% “Slight,” 24% “Moderate,” and 25% “Great.” Then students were asked, “How much risk of physical and other harm is involved when drinking five or more drinks twice a week?” Students then replied 12% “None,” 13% “Slight,” 29% “Moderate,” and 46% “Great.”

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