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Rates of Drunk, Drugged Driving in U.S. Decline

But they still stand at 13.2 and 4.3 percent; rates highest in youngest age group

FRIDAY, Dec. 10 (HealthDay News) -- In the last year, 13.2 percent of those age 16 or older drove while under the influence of alcohol, and 4.3 percent drove while under the influence of illicit drugs, according to a recently released Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) report, the "National Survey on Drug Use and Health: State Estimates of Drunk and Drugged Driving."

SAMHSA combined data from more than 423,000 individuals from 2002 to 2005 and 2006 to 2009 as a part of the agency's strategic initiative on behavioral health data, quality, and outcomes. The report breaks down drunk and drugged driving levels by state, and reports differences among age groups.

Although data indicate that last year an average of 13.2 and 4.3 percent of individuals age 16 or older drove while drinking and using illicit drugs, respectively, the proportions represent a significant reduction from years prior, when 14.6 and 4.8 percent were driving drunk or drugged. The highest rates of drunk driving were reported in Wisconsin and North Dakota, and the highest rates of drugged driving were reported in Rhode Island and Vermont. Drunk and drugged driving occurred much more among drivers aged 16 to 25 than those 26 or older.

"Some progress has been made in reducing the levels of drunk and drugged driving through education, enhanced law enforcement and accurate portrayals in the entertainment media. However, the nation must continue to work to prevent this menace and confront these dangerous drivers in an aggressive way," Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., a SAMHSA administrator, said in a statement.

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