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Fewer Ohio teens drinking and driving

When a teenager gets his or her driver's license for the first time, he or she may feel equipped to handle all of the road's challenges. But inexperienced drivers can make mistakes that lead to serious car accidents. Add the temptation and peer pressure to drink and drive and teenage drivers can put other drivers at great risk. Fortunately, recent data shows that teens' judgment may be improving.

A report by the Centers for Disease Control shows that drunk driving by teens has fallen by more than 50 percent in the past twenty years. In 1991, 22.3 percent of high school drivers reported driving after drinking alcohol, In 2011, the number had dropped to 10.3 percent nationwide, with an even bigger improvement - 9.3 percent - in Ohio.

These numbers are based on teens' reports of their own driving behavior. While there could be more teens drinking and driving than self-reported, the overall trend shows vast progress in keeping impaired drivers off the road.

Across the country, drivers between 16 and 19 were involved in 3, 405 fatal crashes in 2010. 20 percent of teens involved in those fatalities tested positive for alcohol use, most of them above the adult legal blood alcohol limit of 0.08 percent.

Clearly, there is still work to do to prevent drunken driving by teens and eliminate these fatalities. To continue making progress in the fight against impaired driving, Ohio has allocated $1.98 million in federal grants to OVI task forces.

Several enforcement strategies have helped slash drunken driving In Ohio and across the country, including:

· a minimum drinking age of 21 in every state

· graduated licensing programs that restrict when teens can drive and how many passengers they can have

· increased parental involvement that encourages teens to avoid impaired driving

· zero tolerance DWI laws that crack down on impaired driving by anyone under the age of 21

While this report shows vast improvement, impaired drivers can still put responsible motorists at risk. If you are injured in an accident caused by a drunk driving, a personal injury attorney may be able to help you pursue compensation for your injuries.

Source: Dayton Daily News, "U.S. teen drinking and driving drops by more than half," Peggy O'Farrell, Oct. 2, 2012

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