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Marijuana and Alcohol: A Dangerous Combination for Teen Drivers

Parents of teen drivers often worry a lot about their children and alcohol. While most children know that drinking and driving don’t mix, it’s still a lethal combination that takes teenaged lives too frequently. Now a new study investigates an even more worrisome mix: driving while under the influence of marijuana and alcohol combined.

HealthDay News recently reported on a study on teenage drivers and mixed alcohol-marijuana use which found that teenage drivers who used both alcohol and marijuana at the same time were far more likely than other teen drivers to have received traffic tickets or been involved in a motor vehicle accident.

Of the teenagers surveyed, those who admitted to the combined use of alcohol and marijuana were 90 percent more likely to have received a traffic ticket and 50 percent more likely to have been involved in a motor vehicle accident when compared to teenage drivers who neither smoked marijuana nor drank alcohol. Teen drivers who did drink but didn’t combine their drinking with marijuana use were 40 percent more likely to have received a traffic ticket and 24 percent more likely to have been involved in a car crash.

Fortunately, statistics show that both alcohol consumption and marijuana use among teenagers have declined in recent years, with a third of teenagers surveyed in 2011 saying they hadn’t used either substance in the previous year, compared to 12 percent in 1979. Still, alcohol and marijuana use are both prevalent within this age group. In 2011, 31 percent of students reported drinking only, 13 percent reported alternating alcohol consumption and marijuana use and 21 percent reported combining both substances.

The study clearly shows that the combination of alcohol and marijuana use can have dangerous and tragic results for teen drivers, making it all the more important for parents to engage in discussions with their teen drivers about the consequences of impaired driving.