EDUCATION

Teen drunk driving down 54 percent

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A new study suggests teens are putting the brakes on drinking and driving at higher rates than ever before.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says since 1991, there's been a 54 percent drop in high school students who admitted to drinking and driving. The agency credits stricter laws against drunk driving, as well as local governments limiting the hours teens can legally apend behind the wheel through curfews.

Last year, nine out of 10 U.S. teens ages 16 and older did not drink and drive, according to thousands of surveys collected from students in 41 states.

But local authorities insist the problems are far from over.

In fact, Tuesday night, the first of five community forums on underage drinking kicked off in Fairfax County. Parents and teens who came out to West Potomac High School weighed in on questions like, "What's driving underage drinking?," and "Where are young people getting alcohol?"

One father and son who attended the meeting say more needs to be done to those breaking the rules.

"I didn't want him to learn the hard way. I wanted him to have a chance to at least get forewarning of the dangers of drinking and driving,' Mike Walder, whose son, Jacob, attends West Potomac High.

More than 1,900 crashes in Fairfax County in the past five years were caused by drunk drivers between 15 and 24-years-old.

The Unified Prevention Coalition of Fairfax County, which hosted the event, is one of 13 Virginia coalitions gauging people's perceptions on underage drinking and trying to reduce the number of teen crashes in the state.

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