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Use of alcohol and other drugs is associated with the leading causes of death and injury among teenagers and young adults Nationally nearly 8800 drinking drivers died in crashes which killed a total of more than 16600 people in 2000 Over 2300 of those drivers were between the ages of 16 and 24 Nationally 26 of all male drivers age 15-20 had been drinking prior to their involvement in a fatal crash For females the corresponding figure was 13 Youth drinking and driving in the United States decreased spectacularly in the past two decades For example the number of drinking drivers under the age of 21 in fatal crash dropped 61 from 4393 in 1982 to 1714 in 1998 Young adults ages 18-25 are most likely to binge or drink heavily 54 of the drinkers in this age group binge and about one in four are heavy drinkers Individuals under age 21 were the victims in just over 13 of incidents of alcohol-related violence and the offenders in nearly 9 Nationally youth drinking and driving as measured by fatal crash involvements and by self-reported drinking and driving behavior decreased substantially from 1982 to 1998 Most of the decrease took place between 1982 and 1992 Youth drinking also decreased from 1982 to 1998 but not as much as youth drinking and driving During 1999 traffic citations issued to 16-year-old drivers declined 20 Sixteen-year-old drivers were involved in 5040 crashes in 2000 down 1166 or nearly 20 from the 1998 total of 6206 Drinking and driving has become less socially acceptable among youth as measured by high school senior student attitudes reported by Monitoring the Future and by the use and acceptance of designated drivers by college students Some factors that may have contributed to the decline in both impaired driving and total alcohol-related traffic fatalities among young people include prompt license suspension for people who driven while impaired This has increased the minimum drinking age and
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