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DRUNK DRIVING
VERSUS
DRUGGED DRIVING

Which Problem Causes More Traffic Accidents Among Young Adults in Texas?

DRUNK DRIVING VERSUS DRUGGED DRIVING

Which Problem Causes More Traffic Accidents Among Young Adults in Texas?

Drinking, Drugs and Driving: A Dangerous Rite of Passage

Young adults who go away to college, join the military or enter the workforce enjoy the freedom and responsibilities of adulthood for the first time. For many young men and women in Texas, this exciting new phase of life also involves experimentation with alcohol and drugs. Unfortunately, the newfound freedom to use to intoxicating substances collides – literally – with the privilege of driving a motor vehicle.

Data show that illicit drug use is increasing among adults ages 18-25, while the rate of binge drinking has remained fairly steady for the age group over recent years. Abuse of alcohol and drugs can have serious negative repercussions for young adults in many aspects of their life, sometimes causing personal injury. But which form of impairment causes more traffic accidents among young drivers in Texas?

Statistics 1

2002-2012
Binge Drinking Among Young Adults

Statistics show a slight downward trend in the number of young adults who binge drink.

Statistics 1

2002-2013
Illicit Drug Use by Young Adults

Over the same period, college-age adults have significantly increased their use of illicit drugs.

Statistics 1

2010-2014
Young Drivers Charged with DUI

Fewer young drivers have faced Texas DUI charges recently compared to just 5 years ago.

Where Drugs & Alcohol Cause
Young Drivers to Crash in Texas

The interactive map below shows where drug and alcohol impairment leave their mark on Texas roads. To a large degree, the accident sites are concentrated in the major metro areas of the state – Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, Fort Worth, Austin – as well as smaller cities like Laredo, Lubbock, Odessa, Beaumont, Midland, Abilene, Amarillo, and Waco. The trail of DUI crashes also traces the Interstates and major highways that traverse the Lone Star State.

Explore the map below to find out where accidents have occurred in your area due to drug or alcohol impairment.

Drug Image
Drug Image
Versus

6,430

Between 2012 and 2016, young drivers impaired by drugs caused a total of 6,430 crashes on Texas road, according to data from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).

  • The highest tally of drug-related accidents among young Texas drivers came in 2015, when 1,373 drivers between the ages of 18 and 25 were involved in car crashes.
  • 2013 saw the fewest crashes caused by drug-impaired young drivers, with 1,248 such accidents occurring that year.
  • Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse show that illicit drug use increased from slightly more than 8 percent of the population in 2002 to well over 9 percent in 2013.
  • Illicit drug use was highest among young adults 18-25, with nearly 22 percent reporting that they had used illicit drugs in the past month.

38,987

A whopping 38,987 Texas car accidents were caused by alcohol-impaired drivers between the age of 18-25, TxDOT data reveal.

  • Alcohol-related accidents peaked among young drivers in 2012, when 8,952 crashes involved a driver between the ages of 18-25 who was impaired by alcohol.
  • That number has steadily declined, with 6,101 accidents caused by alcohol-impaired young drivers in Texas so far in 2016.
  • Binge drinking rates have fluctuated among young adults in recent years, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2002, 44.4 percent of college students reported binge drinking (five or more drinks) in the past month. That figure had fallen to 40.1 percent in 2012.
Drug Image

Drugs

6,430

Between 2012 and 2016, young drivers impaired by drugs caused a total of 6,430 crashes on Texas road, according to data from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).

  • The highest tally of drug-related accidents among young Texas drivers came in 2015, when 1,373 drivers between the ages of 18 and 25 were involved in car crashes.
  • 2013 saw the fewest crashes caused by drug-impaired young drivers, with 1,248 such accidents occurring that year.
  • Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse show that illicit drug use increased from slightly more than 8 percent of the population in 2002 to well over 9 percent in 2013.
  • Illicit drug use was highest among young adults 18-25, with nearly 22 percent reporting that they had used illicit drugs in the past month.
Drug Image

Alcohol

38,987

A whopping 38,987 Texas car accidents were caused by alcohol-impaired drivers between the age of 18-25, TxDOT data reveal.

  • Alcohol-related accidents peaked among young drivers in 2012, when 8,952 crashes involved a driver between the ages of 18-25 who was impaired by alcohol.
  • That number has steadily declined, with 6,101 accidents caused by alcohol-impaired young drivers in Texas so far in 2016.
  • Binge drinking rates have fluctuated among young adults in recent years, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2002, 44.4 percent of college students reported binge drinking (five or more drinks) in the past month. That figure had fallen to 40.1 percent in 2012.

Alcohol Impairment Remains the Bigger Problem, Though It Is Improving

Young drivers impaired by alcohol cause far more accidents in Texas than young drivers impaired by drugs. That is clear in the data shown in the chart at left. In fact, alcohol-impaired young drivers are involved in 5-7 times more Texas car accidents than drug-impaired drivers. The good news about alcohol impairment is that the number of crashes involving young drivers and alcohol has steadily decreased, while the same figures have held steady for drug-impaired young drivers. At the same time, DUI arrests of drivers between 18 and 25 in Texas have fallen from 25,109 in 2010 to 16,884 in 2014.

What is going on here?

Drinking Detection

Drinking & Detection

Although binge drinking may be decreasing while drug use is on the rise, it is still far more pervasive. Also, police can more readily determine if a driver was alcohol-impaired.

Drug Use Detection

Drug Use & Detection

Statistics show drug use is increasing among young drivers. At the same time, drug impairment is more difficult to detect after a crash. The statistics may underreport drug impairment.

Resource Icon

RESOURCES

What You Can Do About
Impaired Driving

Alcohol and illegal drugs have long been a fixture on college campuses and in the lives of young adults. That’s not likely to change anytime soon. However, it may be easier to reduce or even eliminate the risks caused by driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. While many await the day when automated cars will whisk people safely from place to place with no driver involvement, there are other options available now to prevent thousands of crashes caused by impairment. In addition to more traditional options – designated drivers, taxis and abstinence, for example – affordable ride share services like Uber and Lyft are available in many Texas communities. The fact is that driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol is a choice – and it’s one that young drivers don’t have to make.

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