Driving Under The Influence Of Marijuana - 1 In 5 Teens Have Done It

23 Feb 2012, by Christian Nordqvist, MNT
19% of teenagers in the USA say they have driven a car while under the influence of marijuana, compared to 13% who say they have driven after consuming alcohol, according to a new report issued by SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) and commissioned by Liberty Mutual Insurance. The authors added that marijuana use among 12-graders is at its highest level in three decades.

36% of teenagers believe that consuming marijuana has no negative effects on driving skills - this is a myth. Surprisingly, 19% of teenagers believe that consuming alcohol does not undermine driving safety...

Stephen Wallace, Senior Advisor for Policy, Research, and Education at SADD, said:

" "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.

What keeps me up at night is that this data reflects a dangerous trend toward the acceptance of marijuana and other substances compared to our study of teens conducted just two years ago."

A 2009 study by the same organizations found that 78% of teenagers believed that marijuana use had a very or extremely negative effect on driving performance - today the percentage is significantly lower.

Dave Melton, a driving safety expert with Liberty Mutual Insurance and managing director of global safety, said:

"Teens are faced with potentially destructive decisions everyday and don't always make the best ones. It's our job as mentors, parents, role models or friends to effectively communicate with them to ensure they are armed with the right information and aware of the dangers of marijuana and other substances, especially while driving."

Car passengers and their effect

90% of teenage drivers admit that if their passenger asked them to stop because they were under the influence of marijuana, they would - 94% say the same about alcohol. 87% of teenagers say they would speak up if the driver had been drinking, compared to 72% if the driver was under the influence of marijuana. Teenage girls are much more likely to say something, compared to teenage boys.

A Canadian study on cannabis and driving

Researchers from Dalhousie University, Canada, reported in BMJ (British Medical Journal) that drivers under the influence of cannabis are nearly two times more likely to be involved in a vehicle collision compared to drivers under no influence of any drug or alcohol. The researchers explained that cannabis use worldwide has grown significantly over the last ten years, as have rates of driving under its influence. A 2007 Scottish study found that 15% of 537 drivers had reported using cannabis within the 12 hours of being behind the wheel (aged 17 to 39 years). (Link to article)

What is the difference between cannabis and marijuana?

Marijuana (marihuana) means the same as cannabis. The word "marihuana" comes from Mexican Spanish,it spread to other Spanish-speaking countries, and then into other languages. Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants.
Written by Christian Nordqvist

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