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Drunk young women drivers becoming more common

  • 22 February 2010
  • Written by 
  • Published in Health
According to new research involving drinking and driving in the United States by our young people, more fatal motorized vehicle crashes are involving young women drunk behind the wheel.

The summary of research performed by Dr. Virginia W. Tsai, of the University of California at San Diego, and colleagues is highlighted in the journal Injury Prevention.

The article is entitled "Alcohol involvement among young female drivers in US fatal crashes: unfavourable trends" (Injury Prev 2010; 16: 17-20.)

According to the Tsai  team, they researched fatal U.S. road traffic collisions for the years of 1995 to 2007.

With young male drivers traditionally being the most prone to drink and drive in the United States, the Tsai team wanted to see if such statistics are continuing to be valid.

They looked at five groups of young drivers at age groups of 16, 17, 18, 19-20, and 21-24 years. The team used data from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The data showed that just under 180,000 fatal motorized vehicle accidents occurred among drivers from 16 to 24 years of age during this period of 13 years (please read this carefully), which is about 13, 840 deaths of our young people from drunk driving "each and every year" in the United States.

Are you interested in knowing more about why so many young women are dying on our roads each year. Please read page two.

The Tsai team found, within their research, that the rates of drunk young men dying on our U.S. roads decreased by 2.5 fatal accidents per 100,000 of the population as each of the first four age groups increased.

That is, the rate decreased 2.5/100,000 from 16 to 17 years; the rate decreased again 2.5/100,000 from 17 to 18; and again the rate decreased 2.5/100,000 from 18 to 19-20.

At the transition from the male group 19-20 to the male group 21-24, the rate remained the same as from the transition of group 18 to group 19-20.

Now, for the young women driving drunk in the United States. The research found that the rates of young women in these five groups were much lower than the rates in the corresponding groups of young men.

However, the rates of young women drivers did not always decrease or remain the same as it did with the young men groups.

From 16 to 17 years, the rate fell by 0.8 per 100,000 of the population. From 17 to 18, the rate remained the same.

Please read page three for more statistics on the more common practice of young women driving while drunk.

Now, however, from the group of 18 to 19-20, with respect to young women, the rate increased by 0.7 per 100,000 and from 19-20 to 21-24 the rate increased by 0.6 per 100,000.

In addition, the Tsai-led group of researchers found that the increase in the proportion of young female drivers showing a positive blood alcohol test while being involved in a fatal collision was also greater (3.1%) than it was for young male drivers (1.2%).

According to the BMJ.com (the publisher of the journal Injury Prevention) article 'Alcohol implicated in rising toll of fatal car crashes involving young women drivers,' 'The highest increase in fatal collisions was among drivers with a blood alcohol of 0.15g/dl [grams per deciliter] or higher. This rose 2% among women compared with 2.4% among young men.'

The article continues: 'But the increase in the proportion of young drivers involved in fatal crashes with positive blood alcohol tests at all times of the week was greater among young women than it was among young men.'

And, 'This rose by 3.5% on weekdays and 2.2% at weekends among young women compared with 1.5% and 0.4%, respectively, among young men.'

The Tsai-led study points out that statistics in their study are paralleling other studies that are also showing young women are increasingly abusing drugs and alcohol.

Page four describes why this Tsai study is paralleling other studies on young women and their increasing abuse of drugs and alcohol.

For additional information on this study of alcohol-related fatal crashes of young women versus young men in the United States, please read the MedPageToday.com article 'Drunk Driving Increasing Among Young Women.'

The MedPageToday.com article states one possible reason that may show why women are increasingly drinking and driving.

It states, 'The increasing gender equalization among adolescents, however, with young women being encouraged to take on more traditional male roles, also may lead to their adoption of more aggression and risk-taking, the researchers wrote.'

Some groups in the United States wish to lower the age of legal drinking from 21 to 18 years of age.

The article quotes Tsai and her colleagues. They disagree, saying, "The results of this study should raise serious concern regarding the effect of lowering the minimum legal drinking age to 18 years.'

And, "These findings should raise the urgency of implementing effective gender-specific countermeasures to alcohol-impaired driving, including messages and education targeted to women in this age group.'


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