A new study reveals that one third of recent high school graduates have ridden with an impaired driver in the past year. According to the study, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, young adults are also more likely to ride with a driver who is under the influence of marijuana than one impaired by alcohol. Twenty-three percent of respondents reported riding with a marijuana-impaired driver, 20 percent reported riding with an alcohol-impaired driver, while only six percent reported riding with a driver impaired by other illicit drugs. It should be noted that car accidents are a leading cause of death in teens aged 12 – 19.
Young adults from the NEXT Generation Health Study who graduated high school one to two years ago were asked several questions regarding substance abuse and risky behaviors. They were also asked about their relationship to the impaired driver. Participants reported riding with impaired peer drivers more than older adult drivers – 21 percent reported riding with a peer who was impaired by marijuana while only 2.4 percent reported riding with a marijuana-impaired older adult. According to one of the study’s researchers, when the impaired driver is a peer it is more likely that the passenger will eventually become an impaired driver themselves.
The report indicates that some young adults are at higher risk of riding with an impaired driver, including those who do not live with their parents, those who attend technology school, and those who are not attending a four-year college. The study’s lead researcher and assistant professor of health and exercise science at Colorado State University warns that riding with an impaired driver in the past is associated with an increased risk of doing so again.
The study’s lead researcher believes that young adults can reduce the number of motor vehicle crashes by not enabling their friends to engage in risky behaviors. The study’s authors hope that the report will lead teens to conclude that they should not enable their friends in engaging in risky behaviors such as driving under the influence.
While most teens have heard of the dangers of drinking and driving, not as much emphasis has been placed on the risks of driving under the influence of marijuana. The study’s lead researcher recommends tailoring programs to teenagers to change the apparent perception that it is acceptable to ride with an impaired driver. He also suggests that parents set a good example for their children by not driving while impaired.
With over 98 billion vehicle-miles of travel on Pennsylvania roads and highways, thousands of people are injured or killed in car accidents each year. According to a 2014 study published by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, each day an average of 332 reportable crashes occurred, injuring 219 people and killing three. Nearly nine percent of the total crashes for the year involved alcohol. Other drug-related impairments were not cited.
Car accidents are often caused by someone else’s negligence – drunk driving, driving under the influence of marijuana or other drugs, distracted driving and speeding are all leading causes of car crashes. If you were injured or someone you love was killed in a car accident, contact a skilled Pittsburgh car accident lawyer at AlpernSchubert P.C. For a free case evaluation, contact us online or call us at 412-765-1888, or toll-free at 800-243-6095. From our offices in Pittsburgh, we represent clients throughout Western Pennsylvania, including those in Allegheny County, Lawrence County, and Washington County.