RESEARCH - Youth Drinking and Driving

TIRF logoA new Road Safety Monitor (RSM) poll by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) shows that a majority of young Canadian drivers are aware that they cannot drive safely after drinking alcohol. The public opinion poll conducted in September 2010 investigated a variety of drinking and driving behaviours and attitudes among youth including riding with a drinking driver.

Young drivers aged 16-24 were asked to rate whether they could drive safely after drinking alcohol. An overwhelming 86% of those surveyed agreed or strongly agreed to not being able to drive safely after consuming alcohol. This percentage was also significantly higher than drivers aged 25 and older, of which only 77% agreed to not being able to drive safely after drinking.

This self-reported attitude towards drinking and driving appears to be reinforced by their actions, with only 12% of 16-24 year olds surveyed admitting to driving in the last 30 days after drinking any amount of alcohol. In comparison, 25% of adult drivers aged 25 and older admitted to driving after drinking in the last 30 days. This information is encouraging to researchers as youth are generally at a higher risk of being in a collision, even when sober, than older drivers. 

“While youth are still over-represented in road collisions, they make up a smaller proportion of the drinking driving problem,” notes TIRF President and CEO, Robyn Robertson. “However some research has shown that when young drivers do drink and drive, they are more likely than older adults to experience an alcohol-related crash. Hence, strategies such as zero-tolerance for new and novice drivers in GDL programs and for drivers 21 or under have been put in place in recent years to reduce this risk.”  

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