Drunk driving is a serious public safety concern in Kentucky for drivers of all ages. For teenagers who lack overall driving experience, drinking and driving can be a particularly deadly combination. While it’s important to educate young people about the dangers of drunk driving, a new study shows that it may be even more critical to keep young people from being exposed to other drunk drivers.
According to Pediatrics Journal, an eye-opening study suggests that teens are exposed to drunk driving among their peers at an alarmingly high rate. Researchers also find that teenage drivers who see others drinking and driving are much more likely to get behind the wheel under the influence of drugs or alcohol themselves.
Accident lawyers in Kentucky know that alcohol is a contributing factor behind some of the state’s most catastrophic accidents. As the Pediatrics Journal study indicates, despite public safety campaigns and law enforcement crackdowns across Kentucky, alcohol and drug-impaired driving might be considered “normal” or “socially acceptable” among some groups of teens.
Do teenagers “copycat” others who drink and drive?
According to Pediatrics Journal, the study is based on survey results from thousands of high school students in grades 10-12 and aimed to examine the association between driving while alcohol or drug impaired (DWI) and the timing and amount of exposure to others’ alcohol/drug impaired driving (riding while impaired, or RWI).
The study found a positive link between teens who reported drinking and driving and their exposure to fellow teen drivers who drank or used drugs before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. According to the survey, 12 to 14 percent of teenage drivers reported having drank or used drugs before driving within the past month.
Furthermore, up to 38 percent – over one-third – of all teenagers surveyed said they had ridden with a driver who was intoxicated within the past year. The study revealed a positive link between the teens who reported having been in a vehicle with drunk drivers and the likelihood that they’d engage in similar actions themselves by their senior year of high school.
Although the study didn’t allow researchers to pinpoint an exact percentage of how much more likely exposed teens were to drive while intoxicated themselves, researchers said they believed that teens who belonged to peer groups where intoxicated driving was “acceptable” are more likely to be exposed to the dangerous practice than teens who belong to peer groups where others do not drink and drive.
Researchers said that the problem of motor vehicle accidents and fatalities among teens cannot be overstated. Car wrecks remain the leading cause of death among teens age 16-20. Alcohol is a contributing factor in many of these accidents. To combat this, researchers recommended that parents keep tabs on who’s driving when their teens go out with friends to make sure that the driver hasn’t been drinking or using drugs.
This could prove to be especially important in light of the recent survey, which suggests that peer influence might be a stronger factor in a teen’s decision to drink and drive than the efforts of law enforcement groups and safety advocates to curb this deadly practice.
If you or a loved one was injured or a loved one died in a drunk driving accident, contact the Shelton Law Group immediately at 888-761-7204 to learn about your options.