Americans who want to return the national drinking age to 18 should think again. A new study shows that the 1984 law setting the U.S. drinking age at 21 leads to less hazardous behavior from alcohol consumption, including fewer drunk drivers on the road.
Conducted by two Boston University School of Public Health researchers, the study looked at data from the past eight years and found that the 30-year-old law is associated with cutting down drunk driving and other problems stemming from excessive drinking, such as suicide, sexual assault and unprotected sex, according to an article in the independent Florida Alligator.
Alex Wagenaar, a professor at the University of Florida College of Medicine, agrees that keeping the legal drinking age at 21 results in fewer people drinking and driving.
The higher age doesn’t solve the problem, but it has a “significant effect,” said Wagenaar, who has studied the effects of alcohol for more than 30 years and in 1983 wrote “Alcohol, Young Drivers, and Traffic Accidents: Effects of Minimum-age Laws.”
Even with the legal drinking age set at 21, Florida and Tampa roads have their share of drunk-driving crashes. According to the Florida Department of Transportation, there were about 10,000 car accidents in which alcohol was the leading cause in 2012. Twenty-five people age 15 to 19 died in those accidents. There were also 133 fatalities among people ages 20 to 24.
In Hillsborough County/Tampa, 48 people died in car accidents that involved alcohol-impaired drivers in 2012.
Chris Loschiavo, associate dean of students at the University of Florida, said alcohol is one of the main sources of problems at the school, according to the article.
Two alcohol poisonings are reported on UF’s campus each weekend, Loschiavo said. In addition, there are 20 to 30 cases of drunk driving on campus every year. Most of the people charged with DUIs are under age 21.
When students get into the drinking culture, it is difficult for them to get out of the habit, according to Loschiavo.
Students on campus, however, are skeptical that changing the drinking age would have any effect on alcohol-related activities such as drunk driving. Those interviewed for the article said if students have access to alcohol, they’re going to drink and drive regardless of the legal drinking age.
With those types of attitudes, it’s easy to see why drunk driving in the U.S. continues to be a major problem. If you were hurt in an accident that was the result of an impaired driver, you could be able to collect financial damages for your injuries.
A car accident lawyer with experience handling drunk driving cases can help guide you through the process of filing a personal injury lawsuit after a crash caused by a drunk driver.