New MADD/Nationwide Gallup Survey on underage drinking reveals severity of alcohol use
Teens and Parents urged to make the BuzzFree Prom Pledge
Amy George, MADD (469) 420-4493
Elizabeth Stelzer, Nationwide (614) 249-1025
Dallas (April 20, 2006) - Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company (Nationwide) have announced new Gallup survey results on underage drinking just in time for prom season. The results highlight a major public misperception regarding the severity of teen alcohol use. Virtually all (96 percent) Americans considered underage drinking a “serious problem,” and nearly two-thirds said it was a “very serious problem.”
The survey also shows that 91 percent of the public supports increased programs and initiatives to prevent underage drinking during prom season. The results were revealed as teens participate in the MADD BuzzFree Prom sponsored by Nationwide—a school-based program where students pledge to party safe and sober on prom night.
Alcohol vs. Drugs
“The survey results show that the public mistakenly thinks the youth drug problem is worse than the youth alcohol problem, despite research and statistics that show more youth are drinking and dying due to alcohol than all other illicit drugs combined,” said Glynn R. Birch, MADD national president. “It’s clear that we need to educate more parents and adults about the dangers of underage drinking to save young lives and prevent injuries.”
When given a choice between drugs and alcohol, the public cited drugs as the “single greatest problem” facing today’s youth (44 percent), followed by alcohol (37 percent). When choosing between alcohol and a list of other specific illicit drugs, alcohol topped the list as the worst drug with 47 percent, followed by amphetamines/methamphetamines (35 percent) and marijuana (28 percent).
With prom season in full swing, teens are facing important decisions about what to wear, their dates and possibly the decision whether to drink underage. MADD’s BuzzFree Prom sponsored by Nationwide encourages teens to pledge to stay alcohol and drug free on prom night.
“Nearly half of all 15-20 year olds killed in car crashes during prom season in 2004 involved alcohol. MADD and Nationwide are committed to significantly lowering that statistic,” said Bill Windsor, Nationwide assistant vice president of safety. “These are preventable deaths. We are encouraging communities to make a two-fold commitment. We want teens to pledge to be alcohol free on prom night. We want parents to pledge to host alcohol free prom parties.”
In 2004, during weekends around prom (4/2 to 5/23), 46 percent of traffic crash fatalities among 15-20 year olds were alcohol-related. Of these fatalities, 72 percent involved a 15-20 year old driver with alcohol in his/her system.
Additional Survey Highlights
Only 54 percent of men surveyed consider underage drinking to be a “very serious problem” compared to 74 percent of women.
Birch, MADD’s first dad as national president, added, “Males consistently showed lower support for underage drinking initiatives, enforcement and the issue in general than females. The call is to dads and other adult males to take underage alcohol use seriously and help prevent youth access to alcohol.”
Other highlights from the MADD/Nationwide survey include:
More than four out of five (83 percent) respondents say alcohol is too
easily accessible by those under the legal drinking age of 21.
Stronger enforcement of laws targeting:
- bars and restaurants serving minors alcohol (92 percent)
- minors drinking alcohol underage (91 percent)
- adults who provide alcohol to minors (91 percent)
- zero tolerance laws to deter underage drinking and driving (89 percent)
- parents who provide alcohol to minors (87 percent)
Tougher penalties for:
- bars and restaurants serving alcohol to minors (91 percent)
- retailers and other adults who provide alcohol to minors (91 percent)
- parents who provide alcohol to minors (87 percent)
- minors who drink alcohol underage (86 percent)
- More than eight in ten (83 percent) respondents say they favor a federal government-funded media campaign to reduce underage drinking, similar to the federally-funded anti-drug campaign.
MADD released a Gallup survey on drunk driving and underage drinking in 2000. The trend data showed that levels of support increased across the board from 2000 to 2005 including:
- Increase initiatives and programs to reduce underage drinking and binge drinking among college students (90 percent in 2005; 87 percent in 2000)
- Stronger enforcement of zero tolerance laws to deter underage drinking and driving (89 percent in 2005; 86 percent in 2000)
- Tougher penalties for parents who provide alcohol to minors (87 percent in 2005; 83 percent in 2000)
Nationwide’s Prom Promise program merged with MADD’s existing BuzzFree Prom program creating the positive, peer-to-peer, pledge-based program for high-school students that promotes smart, healthy and legal choices about alcohol and other drugs. Participating schools receive a giant pledge banner, individual pledge sheets, an assembly DVD, program and safety posters and BuzzFree cards, buttons and stickers and online discounts. BuzzFree prom has been adopted by more than 200 high schools across the country. For more information on BuzzFree Prom, go to www.buzzfree.org
Nationwide, based in Columbus, Ohio, is a diversified insurance and financial services organization, with more than $158 billion in assets. The company provides a full range of insurance and financial services. (www.nationwide.com)
MADD’s mission is to stop drunk driving, support the victims of this violent crime and prevent underage drinking. Founded in 1980, MADD has helped save more than 300,000 lives. (www.madd.org)