Wednesday, July 09, 2008

“21” saves lives, enough said

The Substance Abuse Policy Research Program put out a press release a while back that I just got through my ASAM listserv:
… the study published in the July 2008 issue of the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention found that laws making it illegal to possess or purchase alcohol by anyone under the age of 21 had led to an 11 percent drop in alcohol-related traffic deaths among youth; secondly, they found that states with strong laws against fake IDs reported 7 percent fewer alcohol-related fatalities among drivers under the age of 21.

Controlling for possibly confounding variables, this study presents convincing research results that should quiet discussions about lowering the legal age limit. No longer should “21” opponents be able to confuse the issue with issues of improved car safety, for example.

The other finding of the study was:
…the authors … found that tougher sanctions against fake identification cards may represent the second-best legislative tool that states have in combating drunk driving deaths among young people.
“We found a 7 percent drop in youth alcohol-related fatalities in states that are willing to take strong actions, such as automatically suspending the driver’s license of a young person caught with a fake ID.“

Still more needs to be done pushing for consistency in the various laws encompassed in “the legal drinking age of 21” (across states and other jurisdictions)and a push is needed for consistent enforcement as well, but there is proof that this is the way to go to prevent deaths of teens.

Enough of the talk, featured recently on one of the news channels (I forget which), of the talk of a return to 18 as the legal age for drinking. “21” saves lives, enough said.

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