Teens more likely to drive drunk on New Year's Eve than on prom night

Kristin McGrath
New Year's Eve is the celebration of new beginnings. But some teens may not make it into the new year. According to a recent survey from Liberty Mutual and advocacy group Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), New Year's Eve is the night teens are most likely to drive under the influence.

The survey asked 2,300 high school juniors and seniors how dangerous it was to be on the road during certain holidays or events, as well as whether they themselves had driven under the influence during certain holidays or events. According to the results, New Year's Eve is seen by teens as the most dangerous holiday when it comes to driving -- and it's the holiday when teens most frequently drive after using drugs or alcohol. Second place? The Fourth of July. Prom night took third place.
Roughly half the teens surveyed said New Year's Eve was the most dangerous night to drive, compared with 29 percent for the Fourth of July and 20 percent for prom night. When it came to the number of teens who admitted driving under the influence themselves, the survey found that:

  • 10 percent of teens have driven under the influence on New Year's Eve.
  • 8 percent have done so on the Fourth of July.
  • 6 percent have done so on prom night.

The study did, however, find this silver lining: When it comes to stopping impaired driving, peer pressure might be a good thing. Nearly all the teens surveyed (94 percent) said they would refrain from driving drunk if a passenger asked them to stop. Meanwhile, 87 percent of the surveyed teens said they would ask a peer not to drive after drinking. The most likely to speak up? Female passengers.
When it comes to driving under the influence of drugs, the numbers are less encouraging. The survey found that teens were significantly less likely to tell a peer to stay off the road if that peer had just smoked marijuana.
Driving under the influence, on New Year's Eve or any other time, can cost a teen driver a lot more than fines. A single conviction is enough to raise a red flag with the teen's auto insurance company. Teens already are charged higher premiums compared with older drivers because of their inexperience on the road. Add a record recklessness to that inexperience, and the insurance company will hike that teen's rates to compensate for the increased risk.

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