ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – According to a recent study, if teenagers ride with a drunk driver, they are more likely to drive drunk themselves.
Researchers found that older high school students are more likely to drive under the influence if they have been in the car with someone who has driving intoxicated.
“It shouldn’t be a surprise that you’re more likely to drink and drive if you’ve been around others who drink and drive and you ride with them,” Bruce Simons-Morton, a senior investigator with the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the study’s author, told HealthDay. “But it’s just wildly associated with the risk of driving while intoxicated.”
In recent years drinking and driving among young people have declined. In a 2012 study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it was found that drunk driving among teenagers was cut nearly in half between 1991 and 2011, and 90 percent of older high school students said they did not drink and drive in 2011.
With this study, researchers surveyed thousands of high school students between grades 10 and 12. They found that 12-14 percent had driven while intoxicated from either drugs or alcohol at least once within the past month; 23-38 percent had ridden in a car with a driver who was intoxicated in the past year.
The study determined that those who had ridden with intoxicated drivers were more likely to drive while intoxicated themselves in their senior years of high school.
The study did not prove a direct link of riding with intoxicated people to driving under the influence.
“If you’re in a peer group where driving while intoxicated is acceptable, then you’re going to be exposed to it,” Simons-Morton said. “Having that kind of experience is socializing. It makes it OK.”
The study also found that those who got their licenses early were more likely to drive while under the influence. “Part of that is just exposure,” Simons-Morton explained. “They’ve been driving more, so their opportunity for driving while intoxicated is greater.”
The study was published in the online journal Pediatrics.
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