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Just as teen drinking rates continue to decline, so have self-reports of young people drinking and driving. A new report from the Centers for Disease control notes that “the prevalence of drinking and driving among high school students aged 16-19 years ... declined by 54% from 22.3% in 1991 to 10.3% in 2011.” That progress continued in more recent self-reported data, from national surveys in 2014. For example: “During 2002-2014, the prevalence of driving under the influence of alcohol alone significantly declined by 59% among persons aged 16-20 years (from 16.2% in 2002 to 6.6% in 2014).”  Among those 21-25 years old, the self-reported rate of driving under the influence of alcohol alone fell by 38% over the 12 years, from 29.1% to 18.1%. And despite the growing popularity (and legality) of marijuana, the “prevalence of driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana combined significantly declined by 39%”among both age groups. Very few young adults admit to driving under the influence of both alcohol and pot, less than 2%. Then too, the prevalence of driving under the influence of marijuana alone also fell during this period. Meanwhile, The US Supreme court will “weigh whether states can make it a…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2015
  • Volume 32
  • Issue # 12
The recently released Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) will be taken into consideration by the Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture.  The federal agencies will decide whether or not to change the 2010 Dietary Guidelines.  The Committee hopes the report will help the agencies develop a “culture of health” in the US, stating that “dramatic paradigm shifts are needed” to help Americans make better dietary and lifestyle choices to improve health.  As far as alcohol is concerned, the Committee does not seem to have strayed from the advice/ comments of its predecessors or come to any dramatic new conclusions.  “The overall body of evidence” DGAC reviewed “identifies that a healthy dietary pattern is higher” in some components, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains and “moderate in alcohol (among adults).”  More specifically, the expert committee “confirmed” that “moderate alcohol intake can be a component of a healthy dietary pattern” but should be consumed only by adults, and that “it is not recommended” that anyone start drinking or to drink more often for “potential health benefits.” Why not?  “Because moderate intake also is associated with increased risk of violence, drowning and injuries from falls and…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2015
  • Volume 32
  • Issue # 2
Annual surveys of first-year college students confirm the findings of several national surveys of high school students. They all document a significant long-term decline in drinking among Americans of this age. The American Freshman: National Norms reports from UCLA (CIRP/HERI) show the same double-digit declines in drinking over the last decade as the Monitoring the Future and other national surveys do. And the Freshman Survey also shows a sharp increase in the percentage of students who did not party during their senior year in high school and a sharp decline in the percentage who partied heartily (3+ hours per week) during that final year. Finally, the surveys also indicate that, contrary to popular opinion, beer is less popular than wine/spirits among college freshmen. The 2014 survey of over 153,000 students showed that 33.5% of college freshman reported drinking beer occasionally or frequently during their final year of high school. That was down 26.4% over the last decade, 15% over the last five years. The percentage of freshmen who drank wine or spirits fell by a similar 25.4%, over the last decade. The same students were asked how many hours they typically spent partying per week during their senior year. The…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2015
  • Volume 32
  • Issue # 2
Just as drinking rates showed a rare increase among 10th and 12th graders in 2012, young adult drinking rates increased slightly as well, as reported by the national Monitoring the Future Surveys. These surveys continue to show that about 2/3 of college students and a larger pool of young adults (age 19-28) drink alcohol beverages at least once per month. And unlike drinking rates among high school students, which are down sharply long-term, monthly drinking rates among all young adults have changed little over the last 2 decades. But the rate for college students increased by a surprising 4.2 points in 2012 survey vs the previous year; the rate among young adults increased by 0.7 points. Interestingly, the just-released Gallup survey for 2013 found that the percentage of all adults (18+), who say they have "occasion to use alcoholic beverages" slipped to 60%, the lowest level since the mid-90s. Meanwhile, rates of being drunk at least once in the previous month ticked up 0.2 for college students in 2012 and ticked down 0.4 for young adults. That's a reversal of the 10-yr trend. Since 2002, the "been drunk" rate has fallen almost 10% among college students, while rising 5.4% among…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2013
  • Volume 30
  • Issue # 8
Drunk driving isn't the "hot" alcohol policy issue it was a decade or two ago, even with the recent recommendation by the National Transportation Safety Board to adopt a 0.5 BAC limit for drivers. Still, MADD remains active in the field, especially with its push for ignition interlocks, a solution that relies very heavily on technology to solve a very human failing. Elsewhere, technology is making it simpler for drinkers, as well as their friends, guardians and/or parents, to monitor BACs with the increasing availability of BAC-measuring devices that are affordable and at least reasonably accurate. But technology has its limits. The American Beverage Institute has repeatedly questioned the efficacy and wisdom of widespread interlock use, based on accuracy, privacy and other concerns. Then too, new handheld BAC devices may be (mis-) used by some to justify another drink rather than slowing down. The NY Times recently reviewed the technology behind these devices, as well as their limitations. How much has the technology changed? "A field once dominated by $10,000 machines owned only by police departments and requiring significant training is now filled with devices that cost as little as $30 and can hang from a keychain." Yet "safety experts"…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2013
  • Volume 30
  • Issue # 7
While the MTF data may suggest a pause in progress in reducing teen drinking in the US, another important measure, impaired driving fatalities on US roads, continues to decline. That figure decreased another 2.5% in 2011, NHTSA reported this week. The dropoff was slightly steeper than the overall decline of 1.9%, but the share of total fatalities that were alcohol-related - defined as crash deaths in accidents involving a driver with BAC of .08 or more - stayed basically the same at 31%. Alcohol-impaired fatalities declined for each vehicle type except for motorcycles in 2011. Long-term trends show remarkable progress in reducing total crash deaths per mile driven. That measure shows a decrease from nearly 7 deaths per million miles driven in the US in 1950 to 1.1 in 2012. Ref 2

Publishing Info

  • Year 2012
  • Volume 29
  • Issue # 12