Half Young Driver Fatalities Involve Alcohol or Marijuana

young-driversDriving under the influence is never a good idea and often times results in tragedy for the driver or the other people who happen to be on the road. People who consume drugs and alcohol often think that they are alright to drive, they say ‘nothing happened the last time I drove under the influence, why would this time be any different?’ While it is true that many habitual drinkers and drug users do get away with driving loaded, the reality is that it only takes one slight miscalculation for a fatal end to ensue.

In fact, new research has shown that half of all young drivers who die in car wrecks are under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or both, HealthDay reports. Columbia University researchers pooled data from car crashes in nine states that routinely screen the blood and urine of the drivers.

The states looked at were:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington
  • West Virginia

Researchers looked at nearly 7,200 drivers, aged 16-25, who died in crashes between 1999 and 2011, according to the article. The results of the study showed that 36.8 percent tested positive for alcohol, 5.9 percent tested positive for marijuana, and 7.6 percent tested positive for both.

People who died in car wrecks over 21 were found to be 14 percent more likely to have alcohol in their system. Researchers also found that people over 21 were also more likely to test positive for both marijuana and alcohol.

“Policies related to the use of substances in the United States remain in flux; the rapid changes in marijuana use policy are a good example of this,” study leader Katherine Keyes, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, said in a university news release.

Keyes added, “It’s imperative to know whether there will be unintended consequences of changes in policies, including increases or decreases in harm related to other substances that are not the focus of the policy.”

The findings appear in Injury Epidemiology.