I’m working on a brief talk I am going to be doing at a public forum next Monday about the effects of alcohol on the adolescent brain. While underaged drinking is a serious problem, and car crashes and deaths caused by drunk drivers is a serious problem (prompting the forum) they are not the “only” problem.
A bit less than 25% of teens killed in car crashes (compared to a bit over 25% of adults killed in car crashes) involve drunk drivers. Serious, yes, but again not the only problem. The Chicago Tribune yesterday ran a story (part of an ongoing, episodic series on teen drivers, their problems and deaths) pertinent to the point that drunk driving is not the only problem.
There are nearly as many fatal crashes involving 16 and 17 year olds that occur between 3 to 5 pm Monday through Friday as there are fatal crashes between 9 pm to 2 am Friday and Saturday nights. The latter more likely having a contribution from alcohol consumption. (National Highway Administration data via AAA via Tribune)
So while it does seem to make sense to focus on the toll of drunk drivers and easier to get folks fired up about drunk drivers killing with their cars, we must also look at the bigger picture. We must work to decrease all car crashes, from all causes. The media used to talk about the carnage on our roads and we ought to keep that in mind and work in a multi-pronged fashion to limit all car crash deaths.