More than a quarter of high school seniors drive after using alcohol or drugs, or ride with a driver who has. Driving after marijuana use on the rise. A new study in the American Journal of Public Health finds that 28 percent of U.S. high school seniors have driven after using drugs or drinking alcohol in the past two weeks, or ridden in a vehicle with a driver who did. In particular, driving after smoking marijuana has increased over the past three years.
The data came from the Monitoring the Future project, which collects survey responses from 17,000 high school seniors annually. Researchers analyzed data from a portion of these results captured between 2001 and 2011. Questions inquired about the frequency of operating a vehicle after using drugs or drinking alcohol, the frequency of riding in a car with a driver who did, and additional demographic information. The study was sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Results indicated that more than a quarter of high school seniors report riding in a car with someone driving after using drugs or alcohol or driving after using drugs or alcohol themselves. And while the prevalence has decreased since 2001, when 32 percent of seniors reported this behavior, the most recent three years have shown an increase in driving after using marijuana, which rose from 10 percent in 2008 to 12 percent in 2011.While males were more likely to drive after using drugs or drinking alcohol, there were no significant gender differences between those who rode in cars with drivers who had been using drugs or alcohol.
"Despite some considerable progress in reducing driving after using drugs or alcohol or riding with a driver who had done so, driving or riding after marijuana use is on the rise," the authors explained. "It is also ubiquitous throughout society, socioeconomically and geographically."
- Patrick M. O'Malley, Lloyd D. Johnston. Driving After Drug or Alcohol Use by US High School Seniors, 2001–2011. American Journal of Public Health, 2013; e1 DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301246
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