Use of illicit drugs or misuse of prescription drugs can
make driving a car unsafe—just like driving after drinking alcohol. Drugged
driving puts the driver, passengers, and others who share the road at risk.
Findings of the National Institute of Health, rev. June 2016.
Since Teen Drivers are less experienced, they are more likely than older drivers to underestimate or not recognize dangerous situations.
They are also more likely to speed and allow less distance between vehicles.
When lack of driving experience is combined with drug use, the results can be tragic.
Remember: Car crashes are the leading cause of death among young people aged 16 to 19 years.
How many teens involved in crashes have drugs other than alcohol in their systems is hard to measure, as a good roadside test for drugs, other than alcohol, in the body doesn’t yet exist.
What to do to reduce and eventually prevent drugged driving among Teen Drivers? Much will depend on Peers, as well as Parents.
Because drugged driving puts people at a higher risk for crashes, public health experts urge people who use drugs and alcohol to develop social strategies to prevent them from getting behind the wheel of a car while impaired. Steps people can take include:
- Offering to be a designated driver (stay straight – get others home safely)
- Appointing a designated driver to take all car keys
- Getting a ride to and from parties where there are drugs and alcohol
- Discussing the risks of drugged driving with friends in advance
Drugged driving is most often associated with illicit/illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy – but into the mix we must add:
- Use of medications prescribed to others for pain and other reasons;
- Misuse of drugs prescribed for the Teen including ADHD and allergy medications; and
- Over-the-counter drugs that are available at supermarkets, drugstores and convenience stores.
Illicit drug use – which includes the abuse of illegal drugs and/or the misuse of prescription medications or household substances – is something many adolescents engage in occasionally, and a few do regularly.
By the 12th grade, about half of adolescents have abused an illicit drug at least once. The most commonly used drug is marijuana but adolescents can find many substances to abuse in almost any home.
Many factors and strategies can help adolescents stay drug free:
- Strong positive connections with parents, other family members, school, and religion;
- Having parents present clear limits and consistent enforcement of discipline; and
- Reduced access in the home to illegal substances.
We will repeat this effective advice –
Remind your Teen to be a SmartDriver and make sure they understand that if they are not in the best condition to drive, they should not get behind the wheel!
If in a situation that is dangerous, like being faced driving impaired by drugs, or getting to a vehicle being driven by someone who is impaired – your Teen Driver should know that they can call YOU, the Parent, to get a safe ride home.
And as a Parent, it is your obligation to get your child out of that dangerous situation, and to have pride in their choice to call you for help rather than take a potentially deadly risk.
The alternative is unthinkable.