Benefit of Strict Alcohol Laws

Alcohol-related car accidents are among the leading cause of death in the United States. According to new research, about half of all fatal car accidents where a child is killed is due, in some part, to alcohol. Despite having some of the toughest alcohol laws in the world, the United States still sees thousands of lives lost to the dangerous combination of alcohol and driving. In an effort to reduce this statistic, some researchers have released a study that shows the possibility of a decrease in these deaths of more strict alcohol laws are enacted.

“To reduce alcohol-related crash deaths among youth, it is important to strengthen policies that focus on adults, not just youth, and that focus on drinking, not just driving,” commented Dr. Tim Naimi, an alcohol epidemiologist at Boston University’s School of Medicine. This means that the most effective policies often have little to do with drink driving or underage drinking. In fact, policies like increasing taxes on alcohol beverages, or reducing the number of stores that can sell alcohol in an area, or limiting the times that alcohol can be sold are among the most effective policies in eliminating drunk driving deaths.

A focus on this approach has gained some media attention as the best way to reduce alcohol-related violence, deaths and misconduct and it appears that many states are coming on board. For instance, the states with the strictest alcohol policies reported a decrease of 9% when it came to youth-related deaths from incidents involving alcohol. And often children who are killed in crashes where alcohol is involved were not driving and were not drinking. The data shows that almost half of the youth killed in these crashes were not driving, and 80% of those victims were passengers in a car being driven by an adult who was under the influence of alcohol.

While these new policies could help with the mortality rate in alcohol-related events, it is important to note that researchers are not advocating lesser laws or punishment for drunk drivers. Broader policies are effective, but in conjunction with strict drink driving policies and laws is where the real results are seen.

Can Driving Regulations Reduce Underage Drinking?

One of the biggest things in life that most teenagers look forward to is the ability to drive a care, legally, by themselves. The freedom of finally being able to go somewhere without having to rely on someone else can be exhilarating for a 16 yr old. So how can driving regulations possibly reduce the amount of underage alcohol consumption?

Several practices that were recommended by the U.S. Surgeon General are credited with lowering teenage drinking in recent years, as indicated by researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). The tactics have included restriction on young drivers being allwed to drive at night, and strict license suspension policies surrounding these regulations. In addition to the driving issue, additional areas of were partnerships between college campuses and the community, and routine screening by physicians to identify and counsel underage drinkers.

According to NIAAA acting director Kenneth Warren, Ph.D., “The downward trend in underage drinking and alcohol-related traffic deaths indicates that certain policies and programs put in place at the federal, state, and local levels have had an impact.”

Overeall alcohol use and heavy drinking have declined among 8th- 10th- and 12th-grade students. One study indicated that alcohol use among high school seniors dropped from more than 66 percent in 2007 down to 62 percent in 2013. While these aren’t dramatic results, it does show statistically valid improvement.

Of course laws and regulations alone cannot be the primary factors, but every little bit helps. Reducing underage drinking helps do cut down on traffic accidents, unwanted pregnancies, the spread of STDs and much more.