One-third of students ride with drivers who had been drinking

Researchers found that roughly 9 percent of students in grades 11 and 12 had driven within an hour of drinking alcohol, 9.4 percent within an hour of using marijuana.
By Amy Wallace   |   May 17, 2017 at 1:42 PM

May 17 (UPI) -- Canadian researchers have found that one in three high school students reported riding with a driver who had been drinking, according to a new report.

The study by the Propel Center for Population Health Impact at University of Waterloo also found one in five high school students reported being in a car with a driver who had done marijuana.

The study was part of the 2014-15 Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug Survey of 24,650 students throughout Canada.

Researchers found 35 percent of students in grades 9 through 12 reported riding in cars with drivers that had consumed at least one drink within the previous hour and nearly 20 percent reported they rode in cars with a driver who used marijuana in the previous two hours.

"These numbers are concerning because Canadian youth are at higher risk of death from traffic injuries than any other age group," Leia Minaker, assistant professor at the University of Waterloo, said in a press release. "A significant proportion of car-crash deaths are related to alcohol and drug impairment."

The study showed that students in Saskatchewan had the highest rates of both drinking and marijuana use before driving and that boys were more likely to drive after drinking or using marijuana than girls.

Girls had higher odds of riding with drivers who had been drinking.

"The link between alcohol-impaired driving and collision rates is well recognized, but the consequences of marijuana use are less clear," Minaker said. "As legislation is drafted to regulate recreational marijuana over the coming months, the federal government and the provinces need to prioritize keeping marijuana away from kids and creating strong policies to reduce marijuana-impaired driving."

The study was published in Canadian Medical Association Journal Open.

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