Alcohol and drugs are a leading cause of death involving persons in the 18-25 age group in the United States. However, a new study indicates that alcohol and drug use may be much more prominent factors in car accidents involving teenagers and young adult motorists.
According to a new study, 50% of all deaths involving teenagers and young adults in car accidents involve the use of alcohol or marijuana. In fact, researchers who conducted the study expressed concerns that the growing wave of legalization of marijuana around the country could spell disaster for young motorist safety. These motorists are already at a higher risk of alcohol use, drug use, and other kinds of dangerous driving practices. The researchers speculate that the increasing availability of marijuana and easing of restrictions on the use of pot have not had any effect on the popularity of alcohol among these drivers.
The study found that accident victims above the age of 21 were much more likely than younger victims to be driving with a combination of marijuana and alcohol in their system. About 50.3%, of young motorists who died were either stoned or drunk at the time of their accidents. In total, 37% of the motorists tested positive for alcohol at the time of their deaths, while 5.9% tested positive for marijuana. In 7.6% of the cases, the motorists had both alcohol and marijuana in their system.
Interestingly enough, the study also found that when victims were above the age of 21 they were much more likely to be driving while drunk. During that same age, their chances of driving with pot in their system dropped by 24%. The chances of finding a combination of alcohol and pot in the system increased by 22% in the case of victims above the age of 21, compared to those below the age of 21.
Overall, researchers found that even though there are several restrictions on the availability of alcohol to teenagers and young adults, these seem to have had little effect on the popularity of marijuana in this segment of the population.
Parents, schools and communities have a major role to play in helping prevent impaired driving involving less experienced drivers. Safe driving practices implemented in the early years can carry over into young adulthood. For instance, parents can enforce strict driving rules, especially when they involve alcohol use, through a parent-child driving contract.