Passengers not deterred by friends' alcohol or marijuana use, Canadian study finds

May 30, 2017

TUESDAY, May 30, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- More than one-third of Canadian high school students admit riding in cars with drivers who've been drinking alcohol.

And almost 20 percent say they've ridden with someone who'd recently used marijuana, a new study reveals.

"These numbers are concerning," said study author Leia Minaker, an assistant professor at Canada's University of Waterloo. "A significant proportion of car-crash deaths are related to alcohol and drug impairment."

The researchers analyzed results of a 2014-15 national survey taken by 24,650 students. Based on the results, they estimate that 9 percent of students in grades 11 and 12 have driven within an hour of drinking, and more than 9 percent have driven after using marijuana.

"The link between alcohol-impaired driving and collision rates is well-recognized, but the consequences of marijuana use are less clear," Minaker said.

Canada wants to legalize marijuana, and Minaker hopes lawmakers take note of these new findings.

"As legislation is drafted to regulate recreational marijuana over the coming months, the federal government and the provinces need to prioritize keeping marijuana away from kids, and creating strong policies to reduce marijuana-impaired driving," she said.

The researchers found kids from rural areas were more likely to drink and drive than those in urban areas.

The researchers also found that boys were more likely than girls to drive after drinking or using marijuana, while girls were more likely to be in cars with drivers who'd been drinking alcohol.

The study was published recently in the Canadian Medical Association Journal Open.

More information

For more about teens and drunk driving, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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