Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Prevent teen drug use, prevent teen DUIs

Earlier this year, the Washington State Toxicologist reported that the primary drug, including alcohol, detected in DUI cases among people under the age of 21 is marijuana.  A recent study confirms that marijuana-related driving crashes are a significant problem among younger drivers. From the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: 

The profile of a drugged driver has changed substantially since 1993, according to a new study released today in the journal Public Health Reports, which shows that more drivers are now testing positive for prescription drugs, marijuana and multiple drugs.

. . . The study examines trends in the characteristics of U.S. drivers who were involved in fatal crashes between 1993 and 2010 and tested positive for drugs.

. . . Almost 60 percent of cannabis-only users were younger than 30 years.  (About 36% of meth users and 25% of prescription drug and cocaine users were younger than 30.) 

We see that cocaine and methamphetamine are becoming less and less prevalent. Drugged drivers now would be much more likely to be using marijuana and prescription drugs, and they would probably be more likely to be mixing those drugs with alcohol. We see that overall fatalities are going down, perhaps because people are more likely to be in seat belts, but the mixing of alcohol with drugs is not trending down. It’s becoming more of a problem. 

The author notes that “these trends are likely to continue into the future given . . . increasing initiatives to legalize marijuana.”   

One way to prevent DUIs among people under the age of 21 is to prevent drug use, including marijuana and alcohol, among adolescents. Young drivers who do not use drugs don't drive under the influence. 

No comments: