Jul 11

Driving After Marijuana Use Surpasses Drunk Driving Among High School Seniors, Study Shows

According to a new study by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, more high school seniors are driving high than driving drunk.

The statistics were derived by Dr. Patrick M. O’Malley and Dr. Lloyd D. Johnston from 22,000 12th graders responses to a questionnaire in the annual Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey in 2011. Among those surveyed, nearly one in eight said that within the past two weeks, they had driven after using marijuana, compared to one in 11 saying that they drove after drinking. The instances of high school seniors driving high rose from 10.4 percent in 2008 to 16 percent in 2002.

These changes parallel overall trends in students’ use of marijuana and alcohol. The study shows that high school seniors who drove after marijuana use and after heavy drinking were prone to accidents: 26.9 percent and 30.2 percent respectively, during the 12 months prior to taking the survey.

Parental education, geographical region and population density had no significant effect on students’ attitudes toward drunk or drugged driving. Vehicular accidents are the leading cause of death among young Americans, with drugged and drunk driving one of the main culprits.

Citing data, O’Malley and Johnston conclude that impaired driving is widespread among American youth across schools and regions and call for measures to reduce such dangerous behavior.