Drunk Driving: The Teen Killer. from being stationed in Iraq for two years. When the time comes for him to arrive home, instead

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1 ID # ID # Teacher Senior Project 4 April 2008 Drunk Driving: The Teen Killer Imagine a wife and mother who has been looking forward to her husband s homecoming from being stationed in Iraq for two years. When the time comes for him to arrive home, instead of seeing her husband walk up the steps to her house, she sees two policemen and automatically knows that something is not right. The policemen inform the wife that her husband was killed instantly in a fatal car accident less than five blocks away due to a teenage drunk driver. Holding her two year old daughter, who has never met her father, she feels torn apart and knows that nothing will ever be the same. Every 23 minutes a person is murdered, but every 12minutes a person dies in a vehicle accident. It is estimated that 39% of the deadly crashes in 2004 were alcohol related (Dewey 1). However, this continues to be a problem because teens are not getting the full information of what takes place when driving under the influence. Teenagers are still choosing to make the wrong decision and get behind the wheel. This is not good because if it continues to happen there will be far more deaths as well as thousands of dollars going into the property damage. Teenage drunk driving is one of the leading causes of fatal car accidents; therefore, people should inform teenagers about the consequences. Many people, including the innocent, continue to get into fatal car accidents because teenagers are driving drunk. Alcohol plays a major part of vehicle crashes. Drivers who consume alcohol before driving are less capable of driving properly. Also, because teenagers do not have a lot of experience driving, this makes matters worse because they are not completely familiar with driving on the road. According to Perspective in Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, for every 100 million vehicular miles driven, teenagers have a rate of 2.9 severe crashes compared to an average rate of 1.1 for all age groups. Overall, teenagers have the highest rate of drinking drivers involved in fatal crashes (Kerr 1). Since teenagers have the

2 ID # highest rate of drunk driving, people should put more focus on them to help teens get a better understanding of the situation. To help them have a better understanding, teens need to know more details and facts about drunk driving so it can help prevent them from getting in a car with someone under the influence, as well as keep oneself from driving drunk. By doing this it can help save many lives. According to Phelps, Young people who have consumed one to two drinks (with a Blood Alcohol Concentration or BAC between 0 and 0.05) face the risk of death from drunk driving compared with nondrinkers. Those with three to five drinks (BAC between 0.05 and 0.1) face a 10-fold increase in risk and those who have consumed six or more drinks (BAC over 0.1) face a 100-fold increase in risk of death. Older teenagers (16 to 20) account for only 13% of all licensed drivers yet they are responsible for approximately 25% of all fatal alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents (Kerr 1). Teenagers who illegally consume alcohol do not realize they are putting their lives, and others, in danger when making the choice of getting behind the wheel. A majority of vehicle car accidents also involve alcohol. More than 800 youngsters 14 and below and more than 8, year olds died in alcohol-related highway accidents in People do not realize that while drunk, their reaction time is delayed compared to being sober. This has a lot to do with why people crash when driving drunk. In one of the few studies, Ellickson followed 4,390 students from 7th grade until 12th grade graduation in order to examine drinking practices. They found that by 12th grade nearly 70% of these teens had been involved with some form of alcohol-related problems. Also, 39% of males and 25% of females reported driving a car after drinking (Kerr 2). Many teenagers start drinking from a young age and because they start drinking practices at such a young age, they are more vulnerable to get behind the wheel when under the influence. MADD reports, In 1997, more than 16,000 people-including approximately 2,200 young adults ages 15 to 20 were killed in alcohol-related crashes (Dudley 78). As one can see, the ages 15 to 20 are below the legal drinking age. This means young teenagers are doing something that is completely illegal and most do not realize the harsh punishments and consequences that come along with making the choice of driving under the influence. Teenagers have the highest drunk driving rate compared

3 ID # to all other ages. This problem has been going on for far too long and people need to get more involved and try to help make a difference in making the problem become extinct. It is time that teenagers be informed about the consequences of drinking and driving so that when the time comes they make the right decision. Teenage drunk driving began to draw attention in the 1980s. For instance, teenage drunk driving began to change after the legal drinking age changed from the minimum age of 18 to 21 (Grube 4). Car accidents started to reduce by a large percent because of the change of the minimum drinking age. It is evident that having a higher minimum drinking age helps decrease the amount of alcohol-related incidents. For example, In 2002, 2.3% of Americans 18 and older surveyed reported alcohol-impaired driving compared with only 2.1% in 1997 ( MADD 1). Clearly, even though the previous drinking age, before it changed to 21, helped make a difference in the statistics since the 80s, it was still not enough to keep people from doing it. More needs to be done in order to improve these statistics and keep them at a low rate. Little by little they are increasing instead of decreasing. According to the World Health Organization, It has been estimated one out of every two Americans will be in an alcohol-related crash at some point in their lives (Kerr 1). Drunk driving not only affects the drivers, but innocent people and their families as well. Because of teenagers actions, they are putting society at risk. Drunk drivers are not just a threat to themselves. Riding as a passenger, being a pedestrian and even just riding in a car are all dangerous when there is a drunk driver out in the streets. Not every drinking and driving incident ends with a death, but the risk increases immensely when alcohol is involved. For example, Between 1995 and 2005, the number of teen deaths due to drunk driving increased 4% ( Teenage...1). Every year more and more teens are dying because of drunk driving. This means within 10 years the 4% ratio of deaths of teenage drunk driving will double to 8%. Most Americans are affected by drunk driving, and because of this horrible action teenage deaths have increased immensely. This explains why this problem is very important and needs to be addressed to all. The issue of teenage drunk driving very much so needs to be addressed because every

4 ID # day people who commit this heinous crime are either killing themselves or innocent by standers. Teenagers are young adults and they are not responsible enough to make the right choices. The choices they make now have a huge impact on their future and if making the wrong choice, it could affect their life forever. For example, "In 2005 approximately 3,467 teens were killed and 281,000 more suffered injuries due to driving under the influence" ( Teenage...1). Therefore, if this problem persists, teens will continue to die and be injured. Also, because of drunk driving countless more families will be affected. By ages 19 and 20, 70 percent of all drinkers engage in heavy drinking, suggesting that the majority of young people are at a great risk of making poor decisions that have significant long term consequences ( MADD 1). It is apparent that teens cannot help save themselves and that they need the extra help to make a difference. Teens need all the help they can get so they can learn to not make these horrific mistakes and not become apart of these statistics. "Between 1998 and 2000, 1.7 percent of families had a member killed or injured in a DUI-related crash" ( Daily 1). If nothing is done, loved ones will be lost and their families lives will be torn apart forever. In addition, people may not think this issue will get worse, but that is false! Things will never get better if it is not taken care of as soon as possible. Drinking is also a factor in one-third of all drowning and boating and aviation deaths as well as many other types of accidental fatalities (Uschan 54). Not only is drunk driving a cause in vehicle accidents but off the road as well. This action takes place over seas and thousands of feet up in the sky as well. But when it comes down to it, all three have the same thing in common; people being killed. According to Uschan, In 1998 alone, alcohol-related accidents killed 15,935 Americans and injured another 305,000. These statistics are ridiculously high. People do not realize the dangers of getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. This all comes from carelessness and being selfish and not thinking about the other lives that are out on the road. Drunk drivers just keep tearing families apart because of their choices and it is not fair for those who have to suffer. Teenagers do not come to their senses when thinking about the large affect drunk driving has on people and families. Underage drunk driving is very serious and teens should be aware and taught the negative

5 ID # consequences of getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol. For example, according to the United States Department of Transportation, "Thousands of lives were saved in the 80s by preventing drunk driving incidents. This happened because groups like SADD and MADD were educating teens about drunk driving" ( Police 1). If people become more aware of what really occurs, then more lives, including innocent lives, will continue to be saved. Also, tax payers will not have to spend so much money due to drunk driving incidents. Much of the tax payers money goes toward repairing property damage incurred from drunk driving accidents, which is completely unfair since they are not the ones who commit these crimes. According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, it is estimated that each alcoholrelated car crash costs society $797,000 ( Detailed 1). A better idea would be to use the tax payers money for a more proactive approach. Because of the car accidents, thousands of dollars are going to waste when the money could be used to support organizations such as MADD. In fact, "since 1980 (the year Mothers Against Drunk Driving was founded), alcohol-related traffic fatalities have decreased by about 44 percent, from over 30,000 to under 17,000 and MADD has helped save over 300,000 lives" ("MADD" 1). It is certain that organizations have helped educate people with underage drinking and driving, and it is clearly proven that they have had an enormous influence on teens actions. It is because of their hard work to save lives that society needs to keep them around. With that said, it is evident that our society must begin to try to establish new organizations similar to SADD and MADD because just a couple of organizations cannot educate all the teenagers and cannot save all the lives. It is a promising idea that educating teens about the risks of drunk driving will benefit society greatly, with decreases in the unnecessary loss of money, and most importantly, the unacceptable loss of treasured loved ones. Unfortunately, there are those who not believe that this can make a difference Opponents argue that Mothers Against Drunk Driving has not had much of an influence on society. They don t recognize the potential for change with the help of such organizations to educate teens and increase their awareness of the risks of drunk driving. The reality is, however, that as a result of the efforts of MADD and other groups, all fifty states have passed victims

6 ID # rights bills ( Mothers 1). This shows that MADD does have a major impact on the United States, considering it passed a bill through all fifty states. Opponents cannot argue the significant presence that MADD holds. Because of bills like these, the victims of drunk driving accidents are better protected and defended. With better representation of the victims, perpetrators of this crime of driving under the influence are sure to face well-deserved consequences. Opponents also argue that groups like MADD cannot get teens to change their way if thinking about driving. Though the mothers may not be able to meet with each teenager individually, they have in fact positively impacted the increasing of drunk-driving laws. For instance, MADD has played a central role in the passage of over 1,000 tougher drunk driving laws that close these loopholes and establish other deterrence measures, such as mandatory jail sentences for drunk drivers ( Mothers 1). Mothers Against Drunk Driving can affect teenagers minds and they are. They to continue to help put impaired drivers behind bars or at least get their attention, letting them know there are major consequences. Because of this they are keeping impaired drivers off the streets and creating safer roads for the rest of the citizens. As the punishments increase for impaired drivers, teens will think twice before driving while impaired. It is quite evident that groups dedicated to minimizing teenage drunk drivers are making a difference on society. In fact, since the founding of MADD in 1980, the percentage of traffic deaths involving alcohol has steadily decreased from almost 60 percent of all traffic deaths to around 50 percent. MADD s 1990 goal 20 x 2000 aimed to reduce that proportion by an additional 20 percent by the year This goal was reduced three years early, in 1997 ( Mothers 1). Decreasing the percentage of traffic deaths is a direct affect that MADD has on society while making teens reevaluate their decision to get behind the wheel. With these statistics, it is apparent that Mothers Against Drunk Driving does help. It has helped thousands of people throughout the country and it is also starting to go worldwide. It shows how having organizations like this helps to save lives and to change things for the better. Thousands of teenagers are dying each year because of underage drunk driving. Teens are unaware of the risks involved while drinking; therefore teens need to be more educated.

7 ID # Thousands of innocent lives are being killed in fatal car accidents and one of the leading causes to this is teenage drinking and driving. Not only are loved ones being killed, but thousands of dollars are being put into the damages that occur from crashes. In order to save thousands of lives, all that needs to be done is inform teens about underage drinking and driving. Society can help by having a better understanding of the issue and teaching young adults. More adults should get involved with organizations to learn about underage drinking that way they can take the time to talk to their children about it. This issue keeps being pushed aside and is not being talked about enough. If a person would like to help there are many things they can do such as take part in Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD), and for those who struggle with the issue of drunk driving there is an organization called AA meetings which stands for Alcoholics Anonymous. SADD and MADD help those who have dealt with drunk driving or who have had family members involved with it. Also people can help collect money to give to these organizations. Doing all these things can help make a better world and also having an impact on peoples lives.

8 ID # Works Cited Detailed Information on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Grant Program Assessment Google.com. 3 February Expect More. 12 March 2008 Dewey-Kellen, Janet. Ten Ways to Improve DUI Enforcement. Law and Order 01 September 2006: 1-3. ProQuest. Whittier High School Lib., Whittier, CA. 11 December 2007 Dudley, William. Alcohol. San Diego: Greenhaven Press Incorporate, 2001 Grube, Joel W. and Peter Nygaard. Adolescent Drinking and Alcohol Policy. Contemporary Drug Problems 01 April 2001: 1-4. ProQuest. Whittier High School Lib., Whittier, CA. 11 December 2007 <http://www.elibrary.bighchalk.com>. Hingson, Ralph. Prevention of Drinking and Driving. Alcohol Health and Research World 22 September 1996: 1-8. ProQuest. Whittier High School Lib., Whittier, CA. 11 December 2007 Hingson, Ralph: Michael Winter. Epidemiology and Consequences of Drinking and Driving. Alcohol Health and Research World 01 January 2003: 1-2. ProQuest. Whittier High School Lib., Whittier, CA. 11 December 2007 Holmes, Pamela. Alcohol. Austin: Steck-Vaughn Company, 1992 Kerr, Joanne and Jack Elwell. A Drunk Driving Prevention Program for your Students. The American Biology Test 01 March 2003: 1-5. ProQuest. Whittier High School Lib., Whittier, CA 03 December Mejeur, Jeanne. Way Too Drunk to Drive. State Legislatures 01 December 2005: 1-4. ProQuest. Whittier High School Lib., Whittier, CA. 11 December 2007 Police. Google.com. January Arlington Virginia. 12 March 2008

9 ID # Teenage Drunk Driving Statistics. AccidentsAttorney.com. 15 January Uschan, Michael. Alcohol. San Diego: Lucent Books, 2002.

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