Drinking Age of 21 in US saves lives


Since states began setting the legal drinking age to 21, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates over 26,000 lives have been saved. And as one of the most studied public health laws in history, the scientific research from 46 high-quality studies all found that the 21 Law saves lives.² In addition, studies show that the 21 Law reduces causes those under the age of 21 to drink less and to continue to drink less throughout their 20s.³ Of the 5,000 total alcohol-related deaths among 18-24 year-olds, 80 percent, or 4,000, were alcohol-related traffic deaths.4
“Lowering the minimum drinking age to 18 is both misguided and dangerous,” said IACP former President Ronald Ruecker, Director of Public Safety in Sherwood, Oregon. “The worst thing any police officer has to do is knock on a door in the dead of night to tell parents that their child will not be coming home because he or she is a victim of impaired driving. Lowering the national drinking age would inevitably lead to more tragedies for more families.”
The public strongly disagrees with efforts to lower the drinking age. According to a 2008 survey by Nationwide Insurance, 78 percent of adults support 21 as the minimum drinking age and 72 percent believe lowering the drinking age would make alcohol more accessible to youth.
Bill Windsor, Associate Vice President of Safety for Nationwide, said, “While advocates argue a lower drinking age will curb teen binge drinking, our survey shows only 14 percent of Americans agree and 47 percent believe it will actually make a huge problem worse. Americans feel so strongly about teen binge drinking more than half say they are less likely to vote for a politician who supports lowering the legal limit or to send their child to a known ‘party school.'”
Parents are crucial in addressing this problem and can do more by talking and listening to their son or daughter about the many challenges they will face in college. In fact, research shows that parents should educate children before they reach middle school about the dangers of alcohol. We do not want to pass the problem on to high school principals. Parents need to ask themselves whether they want their kids to have more or less access to alcohol. When searching for the right college, parents should ask questions about the college’s policies on alcohol and what the consequences are for underage drinking while on campus. MADD strongly believes parents should be notified if their son or daughter is disciplined or arrested for alcohol.
Dean-Mooney said, “Underage drinking is not just a youth problem, but an adult problem.” Parents and other adults are the key to reducing underage drinking. MADD is developing a program for parents that will give them proven-effective tools for communicating to their teens about this issue.
Source: February 23, 2009 Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)

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