WATERLOO, Ontario — A shockingly high percentage of Canadian high school students have been a passenger in a car with a driver who has been intoxicated, a new study finds.
Researchers at the University of Waterloo surveyed a number of high schoolers in Canada, finding that 35 percent of respondents had reported riding in a car with a driver who had consumed at least one alcoholic drink in the past hour.
Meanwhile, about 20 percent of students reported having ridden with a driver who had consumed marijuana in the past two hours.
“These numbers are concerning because Canadian youth are at higher risk of death from traffic injuries than any other age group,” says Leia Minaker, the study’s lead author, in a university news release.
“A significant proportion of car-crash deaths are related to alcohol and drug impairment,” she adds.
The willingness of high school students to be the passenger of an intoxicated individual shouldn’t come as a complete surprise.
About nine percent of 11th and 12th graders have driven themselves less than an hour after drinking, while 9.4 percent have driven on their own within two hours of having consumed marijuana, the study found
Clearly, drinking and driving is a bad idea, “but the consequences of marijuana use are less clear,” argues Minaker.
Still, the researchers say that marijuana should be kept away from minors, and legislation should be drafted to limit one’s ability to drive after using it, as weed is about to become legal in Canada.
Although the researchers weren’t able to determine exactly why, minors who were male were found to be more likely to drive after impairment than females. Females, meanwhile, were more likely to be a passenger of an inebriated or impaired driver.
Overall, students in the province of Saskatchewan were most likely to consume substances before going behind the wheel.
The study’s findings were published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal Open.