High school seniors’ impaired driving, riding habits changing: study

Ann Arbor, MI – While some impaired driving and riding behaviors have decreased among high school seniors over time, driving under the influence of marijuana may be increasing, according to a new study from the University of Michigan.

U-M researchers evaluated a selection of survey responses collected between 2001 and 2011 from the Monitoring the Future project, in which about 17,000 high school seniors participate annually. Among the findings:

  • About 11 percent of respondents from the 2011 survey reported driving after consuming five or more alcoholic drinks – or riding with a driver who had – in the previous two weeks, a decrease from about 19 percent in the 2001 survey.
  • About 23 percent of respondents in 2011 reported driving after using marijuana – or riding with a driver who had – in the previous two weeks, an increase from about 18 percent in 2008.
  • Risky impaired driving and riding behaviors were similar among demographic groups, although males were more likely to drive after using alcohol or marijuana.

Researchers concluded that marijuana-related risky driving and riding behaviors among high school seniors needs more attention and solutions.

The study was published online on Sept. 12 in the American Journal of Public Health.