CDC: U.S. High School Kids Drink and Drive a Collective 2.4 Million Times Per Month--And That's An Improvement

By Terence P. Jeffrey | October 19, 2012 | 2:12 PM EDT

(AP Photo)

( - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that over the course of 30 days, there are 2.4 million occasions in the United States when a high school student drinks and drives.

Nonetheless, the CDC determined that drinking and driving among high school students has actually significantly declined over the past two decades.

"In 2011, the overall prevalence of drinking and driving was 10.3%, representing approximately 950,000 high school students aged 16–19 years in the United States and approximately 2.4 million episodes of drinking and driving during the past 30 days," says a report in the Oct. 5 edition of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Things were worse in 1991, said the CDC.

"During 1991–2011, the national prevalence of self-reported drinking and driving among high school students aged ≥16 years declined by 54%, from 22.3% to 10.3%," said the MMWR.

The CDC said that auto accidents remained the top cause of death for Americans age 16 to 19, and that about 20 percent of the teen drivers involved in fatal accidents had alcohol in their blood.

"Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teens aged 16–19 years in the United States," said the MMWR. "In 2010, a total of 2,211 passenger vehicle occupants aged 16–19 years died in crashes on public roadways; 1,280 (58%) were drivers."

"Although every state prohibits persons aged <21 years from driving with any measurable amount of blood alcohol, in 2010, one in five drivers aged 16–19 years involved in fatal crashes had a positive (>0.00%) blood alcohol concentration (BAC)," said the MMWR.

The CDC's data covered teen drinking and driving in 41 states. Among those states, North Dakota had the highest prevalence of teenage drinking and driving (14.5 percent) and Wyoming had the second highest prevalence (14.3 percent). Utah, which borders on Wyoming, had the lowest prevalence (4.6 percent).

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