Teens who’ve been in cars with impaired drivers may be more likely themselves to get behind the wheel drunk or drugged, a recent study suggests. And the more times they’re driven around by an impaired driver, the more risky their own driving habits become.
While other studies have found ties between riding with impaired drivers and teen impaired driving risk, the new study surveyed about 2,500 U.S. students each year between 10th and 12th grades to examine rates over time – not at just one point.
“We were interested in both driving while intoxicated and riding with an intoxicated driver, because it’s the combined of the two behaviors that reflects the true risk,” Bruce Simons-Morton, one of the researchers, told Reuters Health.
“When you do that, you see a relatively high proportion – about 30 percent in our study – reported either driving while intoxicated or riding with an intoxicated driver within the last three years,” he said.
Overall, between 12 percent and 14 percent of students each year reported impaired driving in the past month and 23 percent to 38 percent reported riding in cars with drunk or drugged drivers within the past year, the researchers wrote in Pediatrics.
Students were more likely to drive impaired if they had been in cars with impaired drivers after adjusting the numbers for the students’ genders and drinking and drug habits, family income, and parental education and supervision.
Specifically, kids who reported riding with drunk or drugged drivers during one of the surveys were 10 times more likely to drive drunk or drugged than a kid who never reported riding in cars with impaired drivers.
That risk grew to 34 times greater when they reported riding in cars with impaired drivers on two surveys and 127 times greater if they reported riding in cars with drunk or drugged drivers on all three surveys.