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Binge Drinking in 12th Grade a Strong Predictor of Driving While Intoxicated Later


​New research suggests that high school seniors who binge drink are more likely to drive while intoxicated and be involved in other risky, alcohol-related situations as young adults. The February 2020 Pediatrics study, “Longitudinal Associations of 12th Grade Binge Drinking with Risky Driving and High-Risk Drinking” (published online Jan. 6), examined the annual NEXT Generation Health Study, beginning in the 2009-2010 school. The researchers found 12th grade binge drinking was associated with a higher likelihood of driving while intoxicated, riding with an impaired driver, and extreme binge drinking and blackouts for up to four years after high school. The study also showed that ongoing parenting practices may provide some protection against these risky behaviors once adolescents transition from high school into early adulthood. Among these practices were making a point of knowing who their teens’ friends were, how and where they spent their free time, and letting them know they disapproved of them drinking alcohol, for example. The authors said programs that encourage these parenting practices, paired with strengthened policies to reduce adolescents’ access to alcohol, could have a big impact on reducing impaired driving and other risky alcohol-related behaviors that remain a major public health challenge.  


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.