Research & Resources

Alcohol-Related Deaths Among Young Passengers

In this study, researchers sought to characterize factors contributing to the motor vehicle deaths of 15- to 20-year-old passengers riding with an impaired driver (RWI) who was a peer. Conducting analyses of the 2010–2018 Fatality Analysis Reporting System, researchers found that 63 percent of all 15- to 20-year-old passengers killed in motor vehicle deaths were riding with a driver who was 15–20 years old. Of these drivers, 26.8 percent had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) greater than 0 percent and 77.1 percent had a BAC greater than or equal to 0.08 percent. Fatalities of 15- to 20-year-old passengers who rode with an impaired driver who was a peer and had a BAC greater than or equal to 0.08 percent often occurred at night (especially on weekends), and when the passenger and driver were both male. Race/ethnicity was not a significant contributor to RWI fatalities. The researchers suggest that to curb RWI fatalities among underage passengers, countermeasures should focus not only on underage drinking drivers and riders, but also on drinking drivers of all ages. They also suggest focusing prevention efforts on situations in which both the young passenger and young driver are male.
This paper, “Alcohol-related deaths among young passengers: An analysis of national alcohol-related fatal crashes,” was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and published in the Journal of safety research.

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