Less than one-third of the 4,700 annual underage drinking-related deaths in the United States result from road crashes, according to a new study.
The findings show the importance of preventing underage drinking even if there is no risk of drinking and driving, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Analysing 2010 federal government data, the group found that 32% of the drinking-related deaths among young people aged 15 to 20 involved traffic crashes, while 68% involved incidents such as murder (30%), suicide (14%), alcohol poisoning (9%) and other causes (15%).
“These data show that taking away the keys truly does not take away all of the risks when it comes to underage drinking,” MADD national president Jan Withers said. “MADD hopes this information will inspire parents to have ongoing conversations with their kids about the dangers of drinking alcohol before age 21, especially since we know that a majority of kids say their parents are the biggest influence on their decisions about alcohol,” she added.
MADD released the study as part of Alcohol Awareness Month and in advance of the group’s third annual national PowerTalk 21 Day on April 21. The day aims to encourage parents to talk to their children about alcohol, using MADD’s Power of Parents handbook as their guide. MADD affiliates across the country offered free 30-minute workshops for parents to outline the importance of having frequent and ongoing communication with kids about underage drinking and its dangers.