Most of the deaths that result from underage drinking are not traffic-related, warns Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

Approximately 4,700 kids die each year because of underage alcohol use, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), and 68% of those deaths are not related to traffic accidents, the new analysis revealed.

SAMHSA said in a previous report that over a quarter of the U.S. population who are under 21 (the legal drinking age) are consuming alcohol anyway. Although there has been progress made in lowering the degree of underage drinking recently, the rates of underage are still considerably high, they explained.

This demonstrates the significance of preventing kids from drinking, even if they are not driving.

The experts used data from 2010 taken from:

  • the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

MADD discovered that 32% of all deaths associated with underage alcohol use among 15 to 20 year olds were traffic-related.

Sixty-eight percent of deaths related to underage drinking were other fatal events, including:

  • homicides – 30%
  • suicides – 14%
  • alcohol poisonings – 9%
  • other causes of death – 15%

MADD National President Jan Withers, explained:

“These data show that taking away the keys truly does not take away all of the risks when it comes to underage drinking. MADD hopes this information will inspire parents to have ongoing conversations with their kids about the dangers of drinking alcohol before age 21, especially since we know that a majority of kids say their parents are the biggest influence on their decisions about alcohol.”

MADD as well as National Presenting Sponsor Nationwide Insurance are persuading families to connect on PowerTalk 21 day – the national day on April 21st for parents to address alcohol use to their kids. They also encourage them to use the Power of Parents® handbook to show them how to talk about it.

Bill Windsor, Nationwide Insurance Associate Vice President of Consumer Safety, concluded:

“Parents who think their children are safe because they have agreed not to drink and drive are actually only preventing about a third of the risks associated with underage drinking.

MADD and Nationwide have partnered to help raise awareness about how alcohol is affecting our society as a whole in an effort to prevent the needless deaths and injuries associated with underage drinking.”

A previous report published in the Journal of Adolescent Health showed that the involvement of parents can help prevent children from underage drinking. The study revealed that adolescents are at increased risk to binge drink if their parents or friends’ parents provide alcohol at their home for a party.

Written by Sarah Glynn