College Kids Risk Conviction as Stoned Driving Rates Increase

College students in Missouri and other states may be more likely to get behind the wheel while high instead of while drunk. In fact, a new study shows that college freshmen are significantly more likely to both ride with a stoned driver and drive themselves while high. This contradicts statistics that show that more young adults are using alcohol than pot. About 31 percent of those who have smoked marijuana are risking a DWI conviction because they have gotten behind the wheel while stoned.

Authorities report that the cultural shift may be caused by a generally relaxed attitude toward marijuana. As pot possession and use becomes decriminalized among the over-21 set, younger adults are also jumping on the bandwagon. Although public health officials have seen a decline in drunk driving behaviors, they may now have to turn their attention to those who choose to consume marijuana.

Young people are already one of the highest-risk driving categories, even when they are not engaging in underage drinking and other violations. Stoned drivers may double the risk of getting in a car accident for these inexperienced drivers. A nationwide survey shows that marijuana use was implicated in more than one in 10 fatal crashes among those ages 16 to 20.

Both men and women are fairly likely to get in a vehicle with someone who has smoked marijuana before driving. Those who have driven high are also shown to be more likely to accept a ride from a stoned driver. Although we often focus on underage drinking as the nation’s roadway scourge, it is important to remember that intoxicated driving is not always confined to alcohol-related charges. In fact, drivers can also be charged with criminal offenses for getting behind the wheel after consuming drugs.

Source: Reuters, “College kids more likely to drive after toking than after drinking” Shereen Jegtvig, May. 13, 2014

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