Among drivers age 16-17, says the CDC, the rate of crashes involving a driver who has been drinking plunged by 60 percent. For 18-to-20-year-olds, they dropped by 55 percent. Among those above age 25, by contrast, the decline was just 39 percent. Since 1999, fatality rates have risen a bit for every age group--except 16- and 17-year-olds.I'm not totally convinced, but it seems to make sense.
Our "pathological obsession with safety" has done much to extend the life expectancy of teenagers. Chuck Hurley, vice president of the National Safety Council, says the data indicate that the higher drinking age saves about 1,000 lives a year. Drinking and driving used to be the leading cause of death among teenagers. Not anymore.
What accounts for the progress? There's an obvious explanation: Those under 21 can no longer buy liquor legally. All states were required to raise their drinking age by 1988 as a condition of getting federal highway funds.
Let's not overstate the impact of the higher drinking age. Alas, not all teenagers have sworn off alcohol. But the 21-year-old rule does pose something of an obstacle for minors, as the Bush daughters can attest.
[S]etting the floor at 21 instead of 18 creates a bigger hurdle for high school kids, because they're less likely to have friends old enough to buy for them. Most adolescents say it's harder to buy beer than it is to get marijuana.
Tuesday, December 10, 2002
How often have we heard teenagers complain that the 21-year old drinking age is arbitrary and that European kids drink young? In the Chicago Tribune (reg. req'd), Steve Chapman offers what he sees as good logic behind the 21-year old drinking age.
By Kate at 3:23 PM