Overview - Youth and Impaired Driving
The statistics for motor vehicle crashes and impairment-related crashes among young drivers are alarming.
- Young people have the highest rates of traffic death and injury per capita among all age groups and the highest death rate per kilometre driven among all drivers under 75 years of age. More 19-year-olds die or are seriously injured than any other age group.
- Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 15 to 25 year olds, and alcohol is a factor in 45% of those crashes.
- 16-25 year olds constituted 13.2% of the Canadian population in 2006, but accounted for 33.4% of the total alcohol-related crash deaths.
Studies conclude that young drivers are over-represented in road crashes for two primary reasons: inexperience and immaturity. Although young people are the least likely to drive impaired, the ones who do are at very high risk of collision.
Driving while impaired by drugs is also a serious concern. Canadians between 14-25 years old have one of the highest rates cannabis use in the world. It’s the drug they use most after alcohol. Most young people see cannabis as a benign drug, far less dangerous than alcohol. They think driving under the influence of cannabis is risk free, despite the evidence that shows cannabis can shorten attention span, alter perception of time and distance and slow reaction times – all of which impair the driver’s ability to respond to sudden events in traffic.
Characteristics of the Drinking and Driving Problem Among Youth
Older Teens: Of all the young drinking drivers who are killed or seriously injured, the smallest proportion is 16 years of age. The largest proportion is 19 years of age.
Males: Account for 87% of the young fatally injured drinking drivers and 89% of the seriously injured drinking drivers.
Summertime: Young drinking drivers are most likely to be killed or injured in the summer (32.4% and 40.8% respectively) and least likely to be killed or injured in the winter (8% and 11.4% respectively). Weekend: A large percentage of young drinking drivers die or are seriously injured on the weekend.
Night time: The vast majority of young drinking drivers die or are seriously injured in crashes at night.
Automobiles: Most young drinking drivers are killed or seriously injured when driving an automobile. Single-vehicle: Young drinking drivers are most likely to be involved in single-vehicle crashes.
At fault: In nearly two-thirds of the alcohol-related multiple vehicle crashes, it was the fatally injured teen driver who had been drinking and not the other drivers.
Crashes: By the time a driver reaches a blood alcohol content of .10%, he or she is 51 times more likely than a non-drinking driver to be involved in a fatal crash.