No Excuse for Any Underage Drunk Driving Accidents

Statistics show that almost every accident on Oregon roads could have been prevented. While that fact alone gives pause for thought, it is certainly the case that there’s no excuse whatever for any underage drunk driving accident. Yet sadly, they continue to occur, though it must be said, the trends are encouraging, both in Oregon and across the United States.

The most recently released statistics related to under age drunk driving accidents show that in 2010, just over 3.3 out of every 100,000 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving accidents on America’s roads. While that rate is still far too high, it still represents an almost 50 percent decrease in the rate of drunk driving fatal crashes over the last two years. In 1991, the number of people killed in alcohol-related accidents was a shocking 6.3 per 100,000 people.

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 The rate is declining for Under-21’s 

Other statistics highlighted in the Century Council report include:

  • A 58 percent reduction in drunk driving fatalities among those under the age of 21, over the 20 year period from 1991 to 2010
  • 33,808 people were killed in traffic crashes in 2010, in the U.S.
  • Of those, a staggering one-in-three, or 10,839 people who died did so in accidents involving a driver who was over the legal limit of .08% blood alcohol level.

The charts below indicate the trend in drunk driving accidents over the past 20 years, which, apart from one or two brief periods, have thankfully shown a steady decline. The first chart deals specifically with under age drunk driving accidents leading to fatalities, and the second chart shows the national trend for all road users.

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Students Against Destructive Decisions

An organization called Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) is made up of young people who are eager to stamp out under age drunk driving accidents. They have compiled a number of statistics of their own, which dramatically indicate the battle against drunk driving is far from won.

Just some of the SADD facts include:

  • In the past 30 days alone, more than one in four people aged between 12 and 20 drank alcoholic beverages, and 17.4 percent engaged in binge drinking.
  • More than one-third of today’s teens have used alcohol by the eighth grade.
  • In 2008, more than half (56.2 percent) of underage drinkers said they had last used alcohol in someone else’s home. This would lead to an increased likelihood of these teens becoming involved in an underage drunk driving accident
  • More than one in five (21.1 percent) of underage drinkers said they actually received the alcohol they drank from a parent, guardian or another adult family member.
  • In 2008, a shocking 12.4 percent of persons between the ages of 12 and 25 drove a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol at least once. More than a quarter (26.1 percent) of those aged between 21 and 25 admitted drove after drinking.
  • Motor vehicle crashes are still the number one cause of death for Americans in the 15 to 20 age group.
  • Young people tend not to wear seat belts when they drink and drive. In 2007, 64 percent of young drivers who had been drinking before being involved in fatal crashes were not wearing a seat belt.

Experts agree that parents need to take an active role in preventing under age drunk driving accidents, yet a recent survey indicates that two-thirds of Americans feel parents don’t speak enough with their teenage children about the dangers of alcohol, particularly as relates to driving. Instead, the most recent statistics indicate that teenagers are more likely to be influenced by friends and peers than their parents.

Parents should also keep in mind that it is illegal to sell or supply alcohol to anyone under the age of 21, and if their child drinks and then is involved in an accident causing injury or death, the penalties could be very severe for both child and parent.

All people would agree that there is no excuse for an underage drunk driving accident, yet they continue to happen. In Oregon, hundreds of people between the ages of 12 and 21 are seriously injured or killed every year in accidents where the driver assumed it was all right to get behind the wheel after having a few drinks.

Teenagers by their nature think they are invincible and that accidents only happen to others. Yet all too often, law enforcement officials are forced to make a phone call or pay a visit to a victim’s home to tell the parents that their child will not be coming home.

Underage drinking is simply wrong, and it’s a stupid thing to do; when you add a powerful motor vehicle to the mix, it goes from being stupid to criminal. If you, your child or any loved one has been injured or killed in an underage drunk driving accident, that driver (and the person who supplied them the alcohol) should and must be held accountable, both criminally and civilly.

You and your family have the right to be compensated for everything from pain and suffering, medical expenses and lost wages, to wrongful death. To take the next step, contact a Portland personal injury attorney with extensive experience in dealing with drunk driving cases. They will explain all your options and advise you on how much compensation you should receive. If you decide to proceed with your claim, they will guide you through the entire process.

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