A survey of more than 1,000 teenagers revealed an alarming rate of driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs. What’s worse, the teens do not think the use of such substances impair their driving ability.
According to the survey conducted by Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and Liberty Manual, nearly 40 percent of those who admitted drinking and driving believe it has no impact on their driving and some actually believe it improves their driving. Twenty-five percent of those who have driven under the influence of marijuana and twenty-three percent who reported driving under the influence of prescription drugs claim their substance misuse did not get in the way of their driving ability.
“These new data illustrate that there is clearly a strong need to increase the level of education around safe driving,” Dave Melton, a driving safety expert with Liberty Mutual Insurance, said in a news release. “The fact that an overwhelming number of teens admit to extremely unsafe driving habits and completely dismiss any risk concern yet still consider themselves safe drivers means either teens have a different definition of ‘safe’ or we need to do a better job of educating kids about the dangers of this type of behavior.”
The survey also found that summer is when many teens report driving under the influence, followed by a series of other celebratory events, such as Fourth of July, prom night, and graduation day.
SADD recommends that parents regularly communicate with their kids the importance of safe driving behavior, and it encourages schools to enhance their program or policy geared at preventing substance abuse and deterring risky behavior.
“School programs can only go so far,” Stephen Wallace, senior advisor for policy, research, and education at SADD, said. “For example, we know that teens are more likely to drink around events such as Fourth of July, which are less supervised than prom or graduation. It is up to parents to talk to their teens about the dangers of driving under the influence.”