Drunk-Driving Fatalities Increasing Among Young Female Drivers
Men historically make up the majority of alcohol-related auto crashes, but more young women are becoming involved in drunk-driving fatalities. Dr. Virginia Tsai of the University of California San Diego and colleagues found that fatal alcohol-related crashes involving female drivers increased by 3.1 percent between 1995 and 2007, while incidents involving male drivers increased by 1.2 percent. They also found that substance abuse has increased among teenage girls.
Dr. Tsai and her colleagues looked at crash data involving young women from the Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatal Analysis Reporting System. They found that the percentage of young women involved in fatal crashes with alcohol in their bloodstream increased on weekdays by 3.5 percent and on weekends by 2.2 percent. Incidents involving young men with alcohol in their system increased by 1.5 percent on weekdays and 0.4 percent on weekends.
The overall rate of alcohol-related fatal crashes among young men decreased by 2.5 percent annually between 1995 and 2007, with decreases among males ages 16 to 20. There were no changes among men aged 21 to 24.
Among women, there was a decrease of 0.8 percent among 16-year-olds, no change among those between 17 and 18, and increase of 0.7 percent among 19- to 20-year-olds, and an increase of 0.6 percent among those between 21 and 24.
The researchers wrote that federal, state, and local governments in the United States have tried to decrease and control the rates of alcohol-related fatal crashes among young drivers.
Some officials suggest that the legal drinking rate be lowered to 18 in an attempt to decriminalize underage drinking and curb binge drinking among high school and college students, but the researchers behind this study disagree, writing that their findings suggest that lowering the drinking age would be more problematic, as the highest increases were among younger drinkers.
The researchers added that more should be done to target women in this age group, informing them of the dangers of drunk driving.
Source: MedPage Today, Nancy Walsh, Drunk Driving on the Rise Among Young Women, February 10, 2010