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More Young Women Driving Drunk
Date:2/17/2010

Some blame societal pressures for increase in fatal crashes found in U.S. study,,

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Although men make up the vast majority of drunken drivers in the United States, more young women are driving drunk and getting into fatal car accidents than ever before, a new study reports.

Laura Dean-Mooney, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), said that the finding "is not surprising" because social pressures on women have increased, and women are picking up some of the bad habits that men have.

"Young women in particular turn to drugs and alcohol to cope and to feel like a part of the crowd or lose their inhibitions," she said.

The study, based on data from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, found that "female drivers involved in fatal crashes actually increased over the years we studied -- 1995 to 2007," said Dr. Federico Vaca, a professor of emergency medicine at Yale University School of Medicine and the study's lead researcher.

The finding is published Feb. 18 in Injury Prevention.

Though young men are still the ones mostly involved in fatal crashes, the increase in accidents among young women is concerning, Vaca said. And he, too, thinks a social dynamic may be at play, with the increase in risky behavior reflecting a growing desire among young women to fit in.

In their research, Vaca's team used data on alcohol-related accidents in five age groups: 16-year-olds, 17-year-olds, 18-year-olds, 19- and 20-year-olds and 21- to 24-year-olds. They also looked at blood alcohol levels from 0.01 grams per deciliter (g/dl) to 0.15 g/dl, the level at which drivers have a 100-fold increase in the risk for an accident. The legal blood alcohol for driving in all U.S. states is 0.08 g/dl.

In the 12-year period examined by the researchers, 179,891 fatal car accidents were recorded among drivers 16 to 24 years ol
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