In 1984 the drinking age in the United States was raised from 18 to 21, in an attempt to decrease traffic accidents caused by drunk driving. This law is responsible for creating a dangerous culture of irresponsible and reckless behavior. Lowering the drinking age shouldn’t have been all that was done to decrease traffic accidents. Under the constant surveillance of the law the multiple people that are underage are drinking. They drink behind closed doors, and don’t necessarily drink healthy amounts of it. In a lot of cases they drink as much as they can, and as fast as they can.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a study they did in 2010 on drug use and health showed that “Drunk driving is the highest among 21 to 25 year olds.” According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “In the United States, the number of drunk driving has been cut in half since the 1980s.” Which is great , however, this law has not been successful in protecting minors from drinking alcohol and has instead presented a greater issue. Under age drinking happens regularly in places like college campuses and it can not be controlled. Increasing the legal drinking age has caused minors to drink to behind closed doors, where in many cases unsupervised and excessive binge drinking occurs.
Other countries have lower drinking ages. Health Research Funding compares the United States to and drunk driving incidents to other countries. “In many countries around the world, the legal drinking age is already 18. These countries have seen a greater reduction of drunken driving accidents than the United States, where the legal age is 21.” The United States could have gone about the issue the wrong way, America could educate youth on the dangers of alcohol and repercussions of it. An education of how alcohol affects the body and the mind.
Morris E. Chafetz, MD, Founder of the National Institute for Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA) stated in a Huffington post article “We see a serious problem of reckless, goal-oriented, drinking to get drunk. Those at whom the law is directed disobey it routinely. Enforcement usually forces the behavior deeper underground, ….But so long as the age remains a one-size-fits-all, federally-mandated 21...hopes of reversing the dismal trend of binge-drinking that has become more serious in the years since the drinking age was raised... nothing is likely to change for the better." Many people like Morris Chafetz agree that if this issue isn't handled, it will begin to affect more people. The age being raised didn’t solve a problem, it just created another one. Other states and Universities have seen the effects of alcohol and how behavior has changed. Isn’t it time America do something about it?
The legal drinking age doesn’t completely address the root of the problem. Yes, the law does prevent people 18 and younger (to some extent) from getting behind the wheel in intoxication, but this law didn’t exactly stop the problem of drunk driving. It is not a coincidence that when the drinking age was 18 in the 1980 drunk driving incidents were with drivers 18 through 20. And now that the drinking age is at 21 the problem is with people around the ages 21 through 25. The problem isn’t only the age people start drinking, but it is the way people are taught to handle themselves before and afterwards.
People are limited in the education of alcoholic beverages and how it affects them. The focus should be on how people drink alcohol. not just what happens after they get behind the wheel. Having a formal and mandatory education of alcohol in a school/college/university setting will help to learn exactly what can come with drinking alcohol and the risks that come with it so that people can learn how alcohol affects the body and the mind. Hopefully with the education and knowing how it affects the body, people will take a more cautious manner to approaching alcohol.
"Impaired Driving: Get the Facts." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 19 May 2015. Web. 29 Sept. 2015.
"Pros and Cons of Lowering the Drinking Age - RFnd." HRFnd. 6 Dec. 2013. Web. 29 Sept. 2015.
"Should the Drinking Age Be Lowered from 21 to a Younger Age? - Minimum Legal Drinking Age - ProCon.org." ProConorg Headlines. Web. 29 Sept. 2015.
Chafetz, Morris. "The 21-Year-Old Drinking Age: I Voted for It; It Doesn't Work." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com. Web. 29 Sept. 2015.