Most teen drinking deaths aren’t related to driving, according to a new analysis from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Only 32 percent of underage drinking deaths are traffic-related and 68 percent of fatalities are related to other causes: 30 percent were homicides, 14 percent suicides, 9 percent alcohol poisonings, and 15 percent other causes.
This analysis is based on 2010 data from the FBI, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Centers for Disease Control. It shows the danger of tolerating underage drinking as long as a teen doesn’t also drive. Bill Windsor, Nationwide’s associate vice president of consumer safety, tells USA Today, “It’s important for parents to know that there is a significant danger here and it goes deeper than just taking away the car keys.”
In the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, one-quarter of people aged 12-20 reported drinking in the last month, and parents, guardians, or adult family members supplied the alcohol to 21 percent of the underage drinkers. Rob Turrisi, professor in behavioral health and prevention at Pennsylvania State University and author of MADD’s free handbook, Power of Parents, says that parents are the second most important influence in a teen’s life, after peers: “We are really in charge of helping our kids grow.”
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