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Directions in Highway Safety, Fall 2007 Cover Page Download Newsletter pdf
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Fall 2007 | Vol. 10 | No. 3

Safety Leaders Unite to Support 21 Minimum Drinking Age Law

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Last month, a new coalition of health and safety leaders committed to preserving the lifesaving 21 Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA) law was announced during a press conference in Washington, D.C.

The "Support 21" coalition, of which GHSA is a member, includes several influential groups, such as founding member Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the American Medical Association, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. MADD formed the coalition in response to recent reports that have encouraged lowering the MLDA.

The press conference highlighted more than 50 studies that found conclusively that the 21 MLDA decreases alcohol-related fatalities by 16 percent. NHTSA estimates nearly 1,000 lives are saved each year because of the law.

Speakers noted that research shows strong public support for the 21 minimum drinking age. In fact, according to a July 2007 Gallup poll, more than three in four Americans (77 percent) say they would oppose a federal law that would lower the drinking age to 19. Participants also pointed out that there is no evidence that allowing youth to drink at a younger age will teach them to drink responsibly. Science clearly indicates that lowering the drinking age would make the difficult problem of underage and binge drinking far worse.

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GHSA Chairman Chris Murphy has stated "GHSA strongly supports the 21 Minimum Drinking Age Law. Both research and the hands-on experience of state highway safety agencies indicate that this law has saved countless lives. Underage drinking remains a serious problem that needs to be addressed, but lowering the drinking age would be a gigantic step backward for highway safety."

Glynn Birch, national president of MADD, said "Science speaks for itself. When the legal drinking age is 21, lives are saved and injuries are prevented. The 21 Law saves lives on the road and keeps countless youth from starting to drink at early ages. The earlier a youth begins drinking alcohol, the more likely they are to become alcohol dependent, binge drink and drive drunk later in life."

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