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Teens Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana


According to a recent study, nearly one in five (19 percent) of teens say they have gotten behind the wheel after smoking marijuana.

As reported in USA Today, the national study of nearly 2,300 11th- and 12th-graders was commissioned by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD). It showed that a growing percentage of teens do not see marijuana use as a distraction while driving, with 70 percent of teens saying it is “very” or “extremely” distracting, down from 78 percent in 2009.

Stephen Wallace, senior advisor for Policy, Research and Education at SADD, said the findings reflect a “dangerous trend toward the acceptance of marijuana and other substances compared to our study of teens conducted just two years ago…both in terms of the increased use of marijuana and from the perspective that many think this is not a danger.”

Other studies, like the University of Michigan’s “Monitoring the Future” of 47,000 eighth-, 10th and 12th-graders, reflect this trend. That study revealed marijuana use rose in 2011 for the fourth straight year, with daily use at a 30-year peak level among high school seniors.

Of those teens who have driven after smoking pot, 36 percent say it presents no distraction when operating a vehicle. Nineteen percent say alcohol is no distraction, and 13 percent of teens report driving under the influence of alcohol.

7 Responses to this article

  1. doogiem / February 29, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    What Max and Jon said!

  2. Bill Crane / February 24, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    This study doesn’t make sense. About half of teens, 16, 17, 18, & 19 are licensed drivers and the NSDUH survey shows only about 8% of teens are regular (monthly) users of marijuana. How can you get to 19% of teens drive under the influence of marijuana with those stats?

  3. Scott Smith / February 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    For goodness sake. It is about being mind altered. Legal, not legal, dose-who cares? Even prescription medication warns against heavy equipment operation while taking the medication. No one should be operating what could become a lethal machine while under the influence of anything mind altering. Cannabis is categorized as an hallucinogenic but it also has sedative hypnotic side effects as well. If cannabis was not mind altering why would anyone use it? Don’t use any mind altering substance and drive, ever.

  4. maxwood / February 23, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Like others before it, this study ignores dosage distinctions, such as the difference between “smoking” i.e. the combustion during a hard drag on a 500-mg joint (heat shock; carbon monoxide; reduced THC survival) and true vaporizing which can be achieved with a 25-mg serving in an inexpensive handmade one-hitter. I should think parents would be reassured if a youngster rejects hot-shot joint-smoking, and has an anti-overdo utensil ready whenever (however rarely) overtaken with an impulse to “experiment”. Hint: for me, driving a recycling truck (mostly cardboard and pallets) was an always-slow-streets operation where we often could serve a toke en route without compromising safety.

  5. Avatar of Kim
    Kim / February 23, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    how is this article helpful? Quoting bad statistics is all well and good to warn parents of a growing trend but follow it with facts to present to our kids to proactively address this.

  6. Avatar of Phil
    Phil / February 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Intersting article…seems it took folks a while to think about such a study! Is this US research? The vehicle the ‘exhibit A’ teen is driving is right hand drive which would leave the UK, Australia,NZ, Japan, and about 70 other countries but, not the US.

  7. Avatar of Jon Weeldreyer
    Jon Weeldreyer / February 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    This article implies that driving under the influence of Cannabis increases the risk of vehicle accidents/injuries/deaths? Why is there no link to the research supporting that implication?

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