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One in five college students have driven drunk

By Greg Goodsell
June 3rd, 2010
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The next time you see a car on the road with a college bumper sticker or license plate holder, you may want to give that driver considerable space. A recent study on college students who drink and drive has proven to be extremely sobering.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The University of Maryland's School of Public Health studied more than 1,200 students over four years. Researchers looked at instances of riding with a driver under the influence, driving after drinking alcohol and driving while intoxicated. All of these behaviors were found to be common.

"In the preceding year, nearly half of underage students with access to a car drove after having anything to drink and one in five drove while intoxicated," University of Maryland Center on Young Adult Health and Development Director Amelia M. Arria says.

"For instance, at 20 years of age, eight percent drove after drinking any alcohol, and 20 percent drove while intoxicated. Moreover, among all 20-year-olds -- regardless of car access -- 43 percent rode with an intoxicated driver." Males were more likely to engage in these behaviors than females.

"There were noticeable increases in all three measures of alcohol-related traffic risk . when students reached the legal drinking age of 21," Arria says.

"Our findings call into question the assertions of some advocates who claim that lowering the drinking age to 18 would be a useful strategy for reducing harm associated with alcohol consumption. The present findings are consistent with numerous prior studies showing that increased availability of alcohol is associated with a greater level of problems especially underage drinking-and-driving fatal crashes."
 
Arria says the study strengthen the argument to keep the drinking age at 21, and that lowering the drinking age would create a ripe environment for additional alcohol-related traffic incidences.

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