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33% of young adults say they’ve ridden with an impaired driver: study

teenage girls in the car

Fort Collins, CO — Thirty-three percent of recent high school graduates have ridden in a motor vehicle with an impaired driver, a recently published study from Colorado State University reveals.

Researchers reviewed data from 2013 and 2014 on more than 2,000 young adults from the NEXT Generation Health Study. They found that 23 percent reported having ridden with a marijuana-impaired driver at least once in the first two years after graduation, 20 percent with an alcohol-impaired driver and 6 percent with a driver impaired by other illicit substances.

The researchers also found that riding with an impaired driver in the past made respondents more likely to do the same in the future – as well as drive impaired themselves.

“Emerging adults are entering the transition period from being kids to being adults, so their behaviors, perceptions, knowledge and beliefs can still be changed during this period of time,” Kaigang Li, an assistant professor in CSU’s Department of Health and Exercise Science, said in a March 21 press release. “If they realize the problem associated with risky behavior now, they can reduce that behavior and reduce crash risk. But if they don’t, and they’re influenced by peers who are engaging in risky behavior, that behavior becomes a habit.”

The study was published online March 19 in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

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