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Stricter Alcohol Laws Cut Youngsters' Fatal Car Crashes

Less underage drinking has direct impact on car crash fatalities

TUESDAY, April 14 (HealthDay News) -- Laws aimed at reducing drinking-and-driving activities among young people have a beneficial effect on the number of young fatalities due to car crashes, according to a study published online April 9 in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

James C. Fell, of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Calverton, Md., and colleagues analyzed data on 10 laws, of which four targeted all drivers and six targeted drivers under the age of 21, to see what impact they had on the ratio of fatal crashes of young drivers.

Laws that targeted young people's possession and purchase of alcohol, as well as those imposing a use-and-lose or zero tolerance policy, and three laws targeted at all drivers were associated with significant reductions in the ratio of fatal crash incidence among young drivers, the investigators found. The zero tolerance law and two laws that target underage purchase and possession of alcohol are saving an estimated 732 lives per year, the authors note.

"If all states adopted use-and-lose laws, an additional 165 lives could be saved annually," the authors write. "These findings point to the importance of key underage drinking and traffic safety laws in efforts to reduce underage drinking-driver crashes."

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