Archive for May, 2007

[CR] on NECN

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

New England Cable News came to Middlebury this past week to interview John McCardell and members of Choose Responsibility about the ineffectiveness of the 21 year-old drinking age. Here’s their story:

The Worldwide Decline in Drinking and Driving

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

While this research is not new, it is worth revisiting. In 1993 traffic safety experts convened from six countries to report on progress against the drinking and driving problem. Statistical records kept from 1982-1992 for alcohol-related traffic fatalities in each of the following countries show the following trends:

United Kingdom: 50% Decline
Germany: 37% Decline
Australia: 32% Decline
The Netherlands: 28% Decline
Canada: 28% Decline
United States: 26% Decline

This downward trend in drunk driving across the board shows quite clearly that the 21 year-old drinking age in the United States was, at best, the least effective measure to limit drunk driving amongst these developed countries and, more likely, is falsely credited as the key to changing social mores that in fact changed across all industrialized countries with no drinking age changes. Amongst these six countries only the US raised the drinking age (in 1984) to curb drunk driving; others adopted policies that recognized drinking and driving as an especially dangerous outcome of irresponsible drinking behavior. Rather than target drinking, they targeted behavior. Nearly all countries stepped up intoxicated driving enforcement and lowered legal BAC level. The Netherlands, recognizing that drinking and driving was a behavior best limited if prevented early, lowered BAC levels further for young drivers. Not a single country outside of the US lowered the drinking age, and yet every last one of them managed to reduce alcohol-related fatalities at higher rates than the US. It would seem that the drinking age then is the least effective way to reduce drinking and driving.

More proof that Legal Age 21 isn’t working

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

Take a minute to read this article, and the comments that follow for another example of the puzzling inconsistencies posed to young adults by Legal Age 21.

Alcohol and the Family

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

Binge drinking continues to be a serious health problem in the both the US and the UK and solutions to curb dangerous alcohol consumption are allusive. A study released in the UK earlier this month found that when parents provided alcohol to their children in a family environment, children were less likely to engage in binge drinking and experience negative drinking outcomes. The findings come from a survey of 10,271 15-16 students in North West England published in the online journal Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy.

“Such family consumption,” writes lead researcher Marc Bellis, “may help open up an early dialog about alcohol between parents and children. It allows youths to experiment with alcohol in a family setting with positive parental role models rather than outside the family with pressure from peers to consume to excess.” And it is from this experiential learning that these young adults come to learn responsible drinking practices.

Lower Drinking Age For Marines

Friday, May 18th, 2007

The Marine Corps Times reported this last week that on April 19 US Marine Corps commandant General James T. Conway issued a change of alcohol policies for Marines under the age of 21. The new rules decriminalize welcome-home beer for underage Marines returning from deployment and giving commanders the authority to hold an 18-and-up kegger on base upon a unit’s return from a war zone. According to North County Times of San Diego, a 1995 rule dictated that underage marines were held to drinking age of the states in which they were stationed. Permitting alcohol consumption is now at the discretion of base commanders.

In addition to this domestic policies, Marines will now be held accountable to the legal drinking age laws of the countries they are stationed in. Previously, Marines under 21 were forced to abide by the 21 year-old drinking age even if the laws made it legal for 18 year-olds to drink. Under the new policies marines will be held to the laws of the country in which they are stationed. If the drinking age is an age lower than 18, an 18 year-old legal drinking age will be enforced. This should be of minimal consequence because of those 17 year-old recruits that exist in the marines few, it would seem, would still be 18 upon deployment.

Critics of the law suggest that increased access to alcohol could lead to increased alcohol-related traffic fatalities for marines stationed at home. However, the marines quoted in the above articles, all of whom support the law, suggest that because these underage marines are already drinking, the new rule will provide an incentive to bring that drinking back on base under the control of the base commander.