Research Needs‎ > ‎

Priorities for Reducing Alcohol-Impaired Driving among Youth

Research Priorities related to the Epidemiology of Alcohol-Impaired Driving among Youth

Relate the age of drinking onset to adult drinking and driving and study whether delaying onset has an effect on later drinking and driving and other alcohol problems.

Problem:Research clearly indicates that earlier onset of drinking is associated with increased drinking and driving, crashes, and injuries , as well as other alcohol related problems in adulthood. These findings suggest that delaying the onset of drinking would have life-long traffic safety and other health benefits.

Objective: Research should confirm and extend these results to define more explicitly the relation between the age of drinking onset, the amount of drinking, and adult behavior. In addition, research should investigate whether delaying the age of drinking onset has an effect on later alcohol problems and, if so, what the most effective strategies for delaying drinking onset are.

Determine the drinking patterns and cultures unique to youth and the best intervention points.

Problem: Youth behave, drink, and drive in quite different ways than adults. For example, youth who drink are more likely to be binge drinkers than are adult drinkers. Better knowledge of youth drinking behavior and culture, where they obtain alcohol, and where they drink would be very useful in determining the most effective intervention points and designing effective interventions.

Objective: This research should study youth drinking behavior and culture, distinguishing important subgroups (ethnic, geographical, socioeconomic), and should use this information to suggest effective interventions.

Research Priorities related to Policies and Programs to Reduce Alcohol-Impaired Driving among Youth

Study how communities can be motivated and empowered to enforce minimum drinking age 21 laws.

Problem: The legal minimum drinking age has been 21 in all states for more than two decades. But these laws typically are poorly enforced. Underage drinking is not a high police priority, in many instances because it is not a high community priority. Existing research does indicate that when enforcement is enhanced there is a measurable, and often dramatic, impact on alcohol sales to minors.

Objective: This research should investigate how communities can be motivated and organized to increase underage drinking law enforcement. It should begin by considering community views, norms, and practices on underage drinking and how to build on these views, norms, and practices to provide greater support for age 21 laws.

Determine the most effective policies and practices to maximize the effectiveness of minimum drinking age 21 laws.

Problem: Minimum drinking age 21 laws and enforcement can limit underage access to alcohol and underage drinking at a number of intervention points: limiting the availability of alcohol in neighborhoods; reducing sales to minors by retailers (both on- and off-premise); deterring purchase by youth; and changing the behavior of parents and other adults with regard to providing alcohol to minors. Each intervention point requires different laws and policies and different enforcement techniques.

Objective: This research should investigate what types of alcohol policies and enforcement are most effective and cost-effective in reducing alcohol availability and use by youth.