· Eight youths a day die in alcohol-related auto accidents (CSAP 1996)
· In 1995, approximately 10 million drinkers were under age 21. Of these, 4.4 were binge drinkers. (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration "SAMHSA," 1996)
· In 1998, over 2,000 young people aged 16 to 20 died in alcohol-related crashes (NHTSA, 1999)During a typical weekend, one teen dies each hour in an auto accident. Of these crashes, 50 percent involved alcohol. (NHTSA, 1999)
· In 2000, youths aged 12 to 17 who reported past year alcohol use (19.6 percent) were more likely than youths who did not use alcohol (8.6 percent) to be at risk for suicide.4
· Young drinking drivers are involved in fatal crashes at twice the rate of drivers aged 21 and older.5
· Early age of onset drinking may be an indicator of increased risk of alcohol-related injury. Those who start drinking before age 14 are 12 times more likely to be injured while under the influence of alcohol sometime in their life.6
· According to a longitudinal study of students in three States, middle school students were almost three times more likely to use alcohol if they had previously used alcohol in elementary school.7
· If drinking is delayed until age 21, a child's risk of serious alcohol related problems is decreased by 70 percent. If drinking is not delayed until 21, research shows that youth are more likely to develop alcohol problems. 8
Study: Alcohol leads to more
By Erin Saylor, Daily Staff
April 16, 2003
It is well-known that
consumption of alcohol impairs one's judgment and ability to operate motor
vehicles. But researchers at the University say that alcohol can also make the
body more susceptible to severe injury in a motor accident.
Both passengers and
drivers who had consumed alcohol before being involved in motor vehicle
accidents were one and a half times more likely to experience serious injury
than those involved in an accident who had not been drinking, the study showed.
Taking into account
the severity of the accident, whether or not the person had a high alcohol
tolerance and if they wore a seatbelt, the study showed that the injuries were
more severe - even for those under the legal limit. The legal blood alcohol
content in Michigan is 0.1.
"We found that
those who had been drinking and involved in an average car crash had an injury
severity that was 30 percent higher," said Ronald Maio, associate professor
of emergency medicine and director of the University Injury Research Center.
This research suggests
that even with designated drivers, people are still at risk when they get into
the car if they have consumed any amount of alcohol.
Though earlier studies
on animals had suggested such results, this is the first in-depth study to
examine the correlation between alcohol and injury severity.
Conducted at two
hospitals in Michigan, the study examined 1,362 motor vehicle crash victims 18
years and older.
Twenty-one percent of
the patients had consumed alcohol before their accident.
At this point,
researchers are only able to speculate as to why alcohol makes the body more
vulnerable to injury.
Maio suggested that
somehow alcohol decreases the body's, or the cell's, resistance to kinetic
energy, such as that experienced in a car crash. But he added that more research
is necessary to determine the exact cause.
"I feel that
society has very much underestimated the effects of alcohol on the injuries of
those in accidents," Maio said. "Not only is it the cause of many
accidents, but it increases the severity of the injuries."
Maio and his
colleagues hope their research will increase public awareness of the degree to
which alcohol puts people at risk and improve treatment of those patients who
have consumed alcohol prior to being injured.
"I think that a
designated driver is an excellent idea, but it still doesn't cover all the
bases," Maio said. "People who have been drinking still run a risk of
making their injuries worse."
According to the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 17,448 people died in
alcohol-related crashes in 2001. But Maio pointed out that this number only
accounts for those who have been involved in a crash where at least one of the
drivers had consumed alcohol.