The national statistics for deaths of young people due to easily preventable driving under the influence (DUI) deaths are sobering. They are even more sobering for the state of Arizona. Completely senseless deaths from DUI are hard to take for any age, but the group most at risk from dying from drinking and driving are under 21.
Things are so bad that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave Arizona a rating of “poor” the only state to be given such a dubious honor.
Buckle Up For The Numbers
Dying by a drunk driver is the leading cause for death among Arizona’s 16-17 year olds (40%). That’s more than even illnesses! Sixteen year olds are the group most likely to crash (whether under the influence or not), because this is the usual age for when they are learning how to drive. They crash more than nine times than any other age group in Arizona.
Statistics nationally show that most kids get their first drink by age 13, so they may even be in the habit of drinking regularly before they ever reach 16. Research done by the Arizona Youth Survey in 2006 report that 50% of all Arizona eight graders had a drink within the past 30 days of taking the survey.
And about half of those are called “single vehicle crashes”, which means death was usually due to going too fast and loosing control, which can all too easily happens after only a couple of drinks.
Usually, the intoxicated teen is not alone in the car, but takes his or her friends along for a final ride, as well. A 2007 University of North Carolina study found that, nationally, teen drivers are 39% more likely to get into a crash when another teen (drunk or not) is in the vehicle, too. Even though it is illegal in Arizona to give anyone under 21 a drink, somehow they seem to get it without any problem.
Where Are The Parents?
The Governor of Arizona, Janet Napolitano, claims that half of Arizona adults claim that it is “okay” for teens to drive after having one or two drinks. This is why DUI education and laws in Arizona are not only aimed at teens, but also their parents. These numbers of DUI deaths need to come down.