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Despite awareness, teen drivers engage in high-risk behaviors

Many people probably remember the experience of getting their driver's license. Even though kids might be very excited to finally exert some independence behind the wheel, the tremendous amount of responsibility it takes to drive can be overlooked. This is why many driver safety campaigns are geared toward younger drivers, so they can be educated and -- hopefully -- make wise choices.

In terms of pure awareness, these safety campaigns are working. However, awareness alone isn't enough, because safe driving habits must be put into practice to be truly effective. Unfortunately, a recently released study shows that this disconnect is real.

According to the study, conducted in conjunction with Students Against Destructive Decisions, teenagers today are hyper aware of the dangers of drunk driving. However, the study shows that they have a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to be intoxicated, which could be fueling tragic car accidents.

One interesting finding from the study is that 10 percent of teenagers who say they never drive under the influence of alcohol admitted that they sometimes drive after having one drink. Furthermore, of those students who report drinking and driving, 68 percent only “rarely” drive after having three or more alcoholic beverages.

The problem with these survey results is not only that teenagers are aware of how dangerous drunk driving and still do it, but it's also concerning that young people don't consider having one drink to be under the influence. Even after having one beverage, a person's inhibitions and ability to drive safely could be diminished. This is especially true for young person who doesn’t have a significant alcohol tolerance.

It's also worth noting that Missouri drunk driving laws are also different for people under 21. Drunk driving charges can be filed for young people who register a blood-alcohol content of 0.02 percent or higher. This law acknowledges that young people are a particular risk after consuming even small amounts of alcohol.

Source: Forbes, "Drunk Driving: Teens Talk The Talk, Don't Always Walk The Walk," Jim Henry, March 21, 2014

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