Driving on ‘High’-way: Many Teen Drivers Admit Having Driven After Pot

By | March 1, 2012

A surprisingly large number of U.S. teen drivers admit to having driven under the influence of marijuana, according to Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions).

Liberty Mutual in Boston said this week that a survey shows 19 percent of the teen drivers admit to getting behind the wheel after smoking pot. That’s higher than the percentage of teen drivers who said they have driven after drinking alcohol (13 percent). The study was conducted of 2,294 11th and 12th graders from 28 randomly recruited high schools countrywide last year.

The insurer says the numbers suggest that many teens simply don’t consider a marijuana high as a distraction to their driving.

“Marijuana affects memory, judgment, and perception and can lead to poor decisions when a teen under the influence of this or other drugs gets behind the wheel of a car,” said Stephen Wallace, senior advisor for policy, research, and education at SADD. “What keeps me up at night is that this data reflects a dangerous trend toward the acceptance of marijuana and other substances compared to our study of teens conducted just two years ago.”

“Teens are faced with potentially destructive decisions everyday and don’t always make the best ones,” added Dave Melton, a driving safety expert with Liberty Mutual Insurance and managing director of global safety.

“It’s our job as mentors, parents, role models or friends to effectively communicate with them to ensure they are armed with the right information and aware of the dangers of marijuana and other substances, especially while driving.”

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