MADD Says Drunk Driving Deaths Represent Only a Third of All Underage Alcohol Fatalities

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MADDLast week, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) announced new data indicating that almost seven-out-of-10 underage drinking deaths in the United States are not traffic-related.

MADD conducted an analysis of data from numerous national agencies -- among them, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) -- and determined that in 2010, just 32 percent of alcohol-related deaths involving 15- to-20-year olds in the nation stemmed from automobile accidents.

According to MADD, almost as many underage people died in alcohol-related homicides (representing about 30 percent of all underage alcohol-related deaths) as there were underage fatalities attributed to drunk driving. Additionally, alcohol-related suicides were found to represent 14 percent of underage drinking deaths, while alcohol poisonings represented 9 percent of all underage alcohol-related deaths in 2010.

Annually, the deaths of approximately 4,700 young people are attributed to underage drinking by the CDC.

MADD National President Jan Withers stated that the data indicates that drunk driving isn’t the only concern parents should have regarding underage alcohol use. “MADD hopes this information will inspire parents to have ongoing conversations with their kids about the dangers of drinking alcohol before age 21,” Withers is quoted in a recent press release from the organization. “Especially since we know that a majority of kids say their parents are the biggest influence on their decisions about alcohol.”

The organization has partnered with Nationwide Insurance to develop a program titled “Power of Parents,” which offers resources for talking to teenagers about alcohol consumption. According to Nationwide Insurance Associate Vice President of Consumer Safety Bill Windsor, parents that only focus on drunk driving as potential alcohol-related hazards for their children are ignoring a much larger problem.

“Parents who think their children are safe because they have agreed not to drink and drive are actually only preventing about a third of the risks associated with underage drinking,” he is quoted by MADD.

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