A recent study says that a third of young people just out of high school have ridden with an impaired driver.
23 percent said they drove with a pot-impaired driver, and 20 percent said they rode with an alcohol-impaired driver. Six percent drove with someone impaired by drugs other than marijuana, such as ecstasy, opiates, cocaine, LSD and others.
The impaired driver was found to be a peer or friend rather than an older adult. Marijuana users were twice as likely to ride with an alcohol-impaired driver versus those who don’t take marijuana. And odds of riding with an impaired driver were greater if they were not going to a four-year college.
Not only that, but teen drivers are at an even higher risk for crashes than impaired adults. They are 17 times more likely than adults to die in a crash when they have a blood alcohol concentration or BAC over the legal limit.
The study shows that a youth’s already high risk of being in a crash could mean they are either a passenger or, later, be the driver in impaired driving-related crashes.
Why are Young People Riding with Impaired Drivers?
The study’s results are disheartening, but it is no surprise that youths are heavily influenced by those around them. Young people are impacted by friends or peers, and become involved in behavior they wouldn’t have been involved in otherwise.
Understanding the ‘why’ of the results could also be the lack of public awareness behind the danger of driving with someone impaired. Plenty of slogans pertaining to drinking and driving are everywhere and have become a social stigma. But riding with drivers who are impaired does not have as strong a voice in the media and publicity campaigns.
By teaching young people the risk of engaging in this behavior in any way now, the behavior has less of a chance in becoming a dangerous habit.
The study included data from 2,000 people one or two years after graduating high school and was collected in 2013 and 2014.
Smart Start’s mission is to Separate Drinking From Driving®, however, if someone is convicted or arrested because of a DUI and needs an Ignition Interlock, we are here to help. An Ignition Interlock allows drivers to get back on the road safely while preventing drunk driving. Smart Start also offers voluntary Ignition Interlock programs as a peace of mind for parents and to hold the driver accountable.
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