19 percent of U.S. teens drive after pot

Feb. 27, 2012 at 8:34 PM
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BOSTON, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Nineteen percent of U.S. teen drivers admit they have driven under the influence of marijuana and don't consider it a driving distraction, researchers said.

The teen driving study by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions indicated marijuana is significantly more prevalent among teen drivers than alcohol. Thirteen percent of teens surveyed said they have driven after drinking.

Stephen Wallace of SADD said 36 percent of teens who have driven after using marijuana said the drug presented no distraction to their driving. Among the teens who said they have driven after drinking, 19 percent said alcohol use does not present a driving distraction.

"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," Wallace said in a statement. "What keeps me up at night is that this data reflects a dangerous trend toward the acceptance of marijuana."

However, friends could play a significant role in reducing driving under the influence. Ninety percent of teen drivers said they would stop driving under the influence of marijuana if asked by their passengers. Ninety-four percent of teens who drive after alcohol said they would stop driving at the request of passengers.

The study, conducted by ORC International, was initiated with a series of four focus groups held in 2010, followed by a survey of 2,294 teens in 11th and 12th grades from 28 recruited high schools across the country in January 2011. The margin of error is 2.02 percentage points.

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