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In The News
Nov/Dec 2010 Issue

One in five drivers admits to drinking

As many as 17 million people, 8 percent of all drivers, have driven drunk at least once during the past year, according to disconcerting new research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The National Survey of Drinking and Driving Attitudes and Behaviors, which NHTSA conducts on a periodic basis, also revealed that about one in five Americans has driven within two hours of drinking alcohol in the past year. Four out of five Americans identified drunk driving as a “major threat” to their own and their families’ safety.

NHTSA Administrator David Strickland noted that the study revealed a particularly concerning rate of drinking and driving behavior among young drivers, especially young males. Few of the 16- to 20-year-old respondents admitted to driving after drinking, but those that did admit to drinking said they drank almost six alcoholic beverages at one sitting. While this admission in the survey was inclusive of all drinking occasions, not just drinking and driving, it does suggest that when young people decide to combine the two, they are drinking more heavily.

“Our message is loud and clear: If you drive drunk, you will be arrested and prosecuted,” he said. “If you’re below the age of 21, there is zero tolerance for any alcohol in your system whatsoever. That’s why we’re out there with law enforcement, tackling this major safety issue head on.”

Louisiana boosts required practice for teen drivers

Starting Jan. 1, teens in Louisiana will need more practice behind the wheel, including at night, to obtain their full driver’s license.

Under the new law, teens who have a learner’s permit will need 50 hours of supervised driving practice–up from 35 hours–with a licensed parent, guardian or adult at least 21. Because studies show that most young drivers’ fatal crashes occur from 9 p.m.–midnight, the new law requires that 15 of those hours occur at night so teens gain more supervised experience during this higher-risk time.

Also, intermediate license holders are prohibited from driving from 11 p.m.–5 a.m. unless accompanied by a parent or licensed sibling who’s at least 18. And the law restricts them from transporting more than one passenger under 21, except for family members from 6 p.m.–5 a.m.

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