Driving under the influence of alcohol or marijuana among 16- to 25-year-olds has declined over the past 12 years, according to a new report.
The declines are significant as motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for this age group in the U.S., according to authors from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Roughly 6.6% of 16- to 20-year-olds reported they drove under the influence of alcohol alone in 2014, a 59% drop from 2002. The rate was 18.1% for 21- to 25-year-olds, a 38% drop during the same time period, according to data from SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health published in the Dec. 11 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Both age groups experienced a 39% decline in driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana combined. The rates dropped to 1.4% for the younger group in 2014 and 1.9% for the older group. The change in those driving under the influence of marijuana alone was not significant.
“Effective public safety interventions, such as minimum legal drinking age laws, prohibition of driving with any alcohol level >0 for persons aged <21 years, targeted mass media campaigns, roadside testing (e.g., sobriety checkpoints), and graduated driver licensing … have contributed to the decline in driving under the influence of alcohol in this population,” the study said. “These or similar interventions might be useful to prevent driving under the influence of other substances, such as marijuana alone or combined with other substances.”