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.