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This Week in JAMA
May 3, 2000

This Week in JAMA

JAMA. 2000;283(17):2207. doi:10.1001/jama.283.17.2207

Alcohol-impaired driving is the foremost single preventable cause of motor vehicle crash–related deaths. Using data for 1991 through 1996 from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), Margolis and colleaguesArticle found that 3310 (19.9%) of 16676 motor vehicle crash–related deaths of children younger than 16 years involved a driver who had been drinking alcohol. About two thirds of children with alcohol-related deaths were passengers in the same car as the driver who had been using alcohol. In a second analysis of FARS data and data from the General Estimates System on nonfatal injuries, Quinlan and colleaguesArticle estimated that 5555 (28.1%) of 19768 passenger deaths of children aged 14 years and younger involved a drinking driver between 1985 and 1996 and 149,000 child passengers were nonfatally injured. Alcohol-related fatality rates for child passengers killed while being transported by a drinking driver declined from 1985 through 1990 but remained unchanged from 1991 through 1996. In an editorial, LiArticle advocates a zero-tolerance policy through federal legislation that makes it illegal for drivers of all ages to drive with a blood alcohol level above the minimum reliable detectable level (0.02%).