December Is Impaired Driving Prevention Month
December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, which is designed to remind people of the dangers of driving while drunk, drugged, or distracted, especially during the hectic holiday season. In his proclamation for the 2014 observance, President Barack Obama stated “All Americans deserve to live long and full lives, and every child should have the chance to seize his or her future. But throughout our Nation, too many lives are tragically cut short in traffic crashes involving drunk, drugged, or distracted driving. Impaired driving not only puts the driver at risk—it threatens the lives of passengers and all others who share the road, and every year it causes the deaths of thousands of loved ones. This month, and especially during the holiday season, we dedicate ourselves to driving safely and responsibly, and to promoting these behaviors among our family and friends.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 10,322 people died in 2012 in crashes involving a driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher—that’s 31 percent of total traffic fatalities for the year. Of the impaired drivers with a BAC of 0.8 or higher, 758 were between the ages of 16 and 20.
Underage drinking and driving increases as youth grow older. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that an estimated 3.8 percent of 16- to 17-year-olds and 10.8 percent of 18- to 20-year-olds reported driving under the influence of alcohol in the past year. When all high school teens ages 16 and older are grouped together, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 1 in 10 teens drink and then drive. According to Teen Drinking and Driving: A Dangerous Mix, a Vital Signs report by the CDC, young drivers (ages 16 to 20) are 17 times more likely to die in a crash when they have a BAC of .08 percent than when they have not been drinking. This report identifies percentages of teens in high school, by state, who report drinking and then driving.
NIAAA Releases New Resource on Treatment Options
Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help, a new resource from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), covers the latest research-based treatments and what to consider when choosing among them. The booklet provides detailed descriptions of the two types of professionally led treatments shown to benefit people with alcohol use disorders: 1) established behavioral treatments that focus on changing drinking behaviors and 2) medications, which are often coupled with behavioral treatment. It also includes information about mutual support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that, in 2013, 735,000 adolescents ages 12 to 17 (3 percent of this age group) needed treatment for an alcohol use problem in 2013. However, 662,000 adolescents who needed treatment (2.7 percent of this age group) did not receive treatment for their problem. An earlier report by SAMHSA based on data from 2010 and 2011 estimated that an average of 58 adolescents ages 12 to 17 entered a substance abuse treatment program for alcohol abuse every day.