The minimum drinking age of 21, compliance checks of retailers, and teens spending less behind the wheel contributed to the decline, the report said. Driving among teens dropped substantially from 2000-10, as the proportion of high school seniors who did not get behind the wheel during an average week increased to 22 percent from 15 percent, according to the CDC.
"I chalk it up to serious concerted efforts to save these lives," said Jan Withers, the national president of Irving, Texas-based Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Parental involvement is also very important for preventing drunken driving, she said.
Teen alcohol consumption has also dropped, following the trend in the general population, according to the report.
The data came from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, which monitors behaviors that contribute to injuries and violence, sexual behaviors, alcohol and drug use, tobacco use, unhealthy diets, and physical activity. The samples varied from about 10,900 to 16,400 each year.
"Teens are especially sensitive to increases in gasoline prices and declines in economic conditions, which might have decreased their miles driven since 2007," the report said.
Male students were more likely to drink and drive than females. Males ages 18 and older were the most likely to drink after consuming alcohol, and 16-year-old high school girls were least likely. About 11 percent of white students and 12 percent of Hispanic students reported driving after drinking, compared with 7 percent of black students.
"As a parent of a teen I know that there's nothing worse than having your child die tragically and preventably," said Thomas Frieden, the director of the CDC, in a conference call. "Reducing drinking and driving is something we can do" to reduce unnecessary deaths.
Parents and legislators who want to reduce the amount of drinking and driving should use community-based programs that address local issues, the report said.