Teen Drivers and Alcohol: It's a Deadly Mix
Underage DUIs Down With Young Driver Laws, But Celebrities and Grad Season Crashes Highlight a Continuing Problem
California Drivers Pay Less for Car Insurance!
Despite this week's high profile cases of apparent underage drinking and driving, California's graduated license and zero tolerance programs for young drivers appear to be taking hold.
Over the weekend, police arrested actress Lindsay Lohan on suspicion of driving under the influence after she crashed her car following an evening of nightclubbing. But while the 20-year-old celebrity survived to check into rehab, three Perris teenagers lost their lives Wednesday in an apparent case of high speed drinking and driving along Interstate 15 in Escondido.
Tragic crashes such as this are occurring with less frequency since California instated zero tolerance and graduated licensing provisions, said Candysse Miller, executive director of the Insurance Information Network of California.
"California has some of the toughest young driver laws in the country, and this week's high-profile and tragic collisions are graphic reminders of why these laws exist," Miller said.
According to a 2006 report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, teen crashes have dropped significantly since California's provisional licensing program took effect in 1998. The Institute found a 23 percent overall reduction in per-capita crash involvement with 16-year-old drivers, and that crash rates with teen passengers dropped 38 percent after the inception of the graduated licensing program.
Traffic collisions are the number one cause of death for teenagers in the United States, though provisional licensing programs appear to be reducing the number of teen highway deaths. In 2005, 5,288 teenagers died in traffic collisions - 40 percent fewer than in 1975.
California's Zero Tolerance Law also prohibits drivers under age 21 to be behind the wheel with a blood alcohol level of .01percent or higher. Under the law, a young driver may have their license suspended for a year on their first offense.
Nationwide, the number of teen drivers killed in crashes involving alcohol is also down. Between 1996 and 2005, the fatal crash rate per 100,000 down by 48 percent at night and 40 percent during the day for 16-year-old drivers, with fatal crash rates also down among other teenagers, the IIHS found.
The IIHS research on California's graduated licensing program may be found at http://www.iihs.org/.
IINC is a non-profit, non-lobbying insurance communications association. For more information on this and other issues, please visit the IINC Web site at http://www.iinc.org/.
Source: Insurance Information Network of California - iinc.org