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Impaired Driving

General Statistics

  • Young drivers are less likely than adults to drink and drive, but their crash risk is substantially higher when they do, even with low or moderate blood-alcohol levels.1,2
  • In 2012, 27 percent of 16-20-year-old passenger vehicle drivers fatally injured in crashes had BACs of 0.08 percent or higher.2
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that National Minimum Drinking Age (NMDA) laws establishing 21 as the minimum purchase age for alcohol in every state saved 3,258 lives from 2007 to 2011.3
  • 24 percent of teen passengers report recently* riding with a teen driver who had been drinking.4
  • In addition to direct impairments, driving while drowsy can also increase the existing risks of distracted driving and can put all road users at risk, including child passengers.5
  • Impaired driving affects judgment, reaction times, and awareness, which is especially dangerous for teen drivers, who crash at four times the rate of adults primarily due to lack of driving skills, as well as inexperience.6

*at least once during prior month



1. Peck, R.C.; Gebers, M.A.; Voas, R.B.; and Romano, E. 2008. The relationship between blood alcohol concentration (BAC), age, and crash risk. Journal of Safety Research 39:311-19.
2. Voas, R.B.; Torres, P.; Romano, E.; and Lacey, J.H. 2012. Alcohol-related risk of driver fatalities: an update using 2007 data. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 73(3):341-350.
3. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 2012. Lives saved in 2011 by restraint use and minimum drinking age laws. Report no. DOT HS-811-702. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation.
2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
5. Macy ML, Carter PM, Bingham CR, Cunningham RM, Freed GL. Potential distractions and unsafe driving behaviors among drivers of 1- to 12-year-old children. Acad Pediatr. 2014 May-Jun; 14(3):279-86.
6. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA Releases Two New Studies About Impaired Driving. Accessed September 27, 2015.

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