ITD joins a coalition of safety officials that recently announced a renewed effort to educate parents and teens about the driving-related risks of marijuana use.
"Driving sober means no alcohol, no marijuana, no drugs," said John Walters, Director of National Drug Control Policy for the Bush administration. "Unfortunately, many young drivers don't yet understand the risks associated with marijuana and driving.”
Walters was joined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), GEICO and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) in urging teens to "steer clear of pot."
"Marijuana impairs driving and leads to risky decisions,” Walters said. “Parents of new drivers can use the milestone of earning a driver's license to discuss the dangers of marijuana and being responsible behind the wheel—before they hand over the car keys."
Recent findings published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol show that high school students are more likely to drink, smoke cigarettes, and smoke marijuana during the period immediately after earning their drivers' licenses and their driving behaviors become riskier with more driving experience.
"Teens' inexperience on the road and risk-taking behavior, combined with drug and alcohol use, is a recipe for disaster," said NHTSA Administrator Jeffrey W. Runge, M.D.
Teens are just as likely to drive under the influence of marijuana as alcohol. According to Monitoring the Future data, approximately one in six (15 percent) teens reported driving under the influence of marijuana. That number is nearly equivalent to those who reported driving under the influence of alcohol (16 percent), despite higher prevalence of alcohol consumption among teens.
Marijuana affects concentration, perception, coordination, and reaction time, many of the skills required for safe driving and other tasks. These effects can last up to 24 hours after smoking marijuana.
Greater parent involvement, clear rules, and parental supervision are associated with less risky teen behavior, such as marijuana use and driving while high or under the influence of alcohol. This year's SADD/Liberty Mutual Group Teens Today 2004 report found that nearly 60 percent of teens who drive say their parents have the most influence on their driving, followed by 27 percent who say their friends are most influential.
To learn more about preventing youth marijuana and other illicit drug use, log on to www.TheAntiDrug.com for parents and www.Freevibe.com for teens.