Drugs, alcohol often tied to fatal crashes among teen drivers in B.C.

Drugs, alcohol often tied to fatal crashes among teen drivers in B.C.
WATCH: A new study finds when teens are involved in vehicle crashes, half of them are under the influence. Randene Neill has more on the other factors and what can be done to save more lives.

Drugs and alcohol are two of the factors tied to the leading cause of teen deaths in British Columbia — car crashes.

A new study has found that young drivers aged 16-18 are involved in three times as many deadly collisions compared with other age groups.

“These are troublingly high numbers that we want to take a look at. In this particular study, there were 98 fatalities that we looked at over the course of eight or nine years,” said Dr. Ian Pike, a researcher with B.C. Children’s Hospital.

Of those 98 motor vehicle fatalities, more than 71 per cent involved male drivers, almost 30 per cent were not wearing seat belts, almost half were speeding and half were impaired.

Many of those accidents occurred in more rural areas, outside the Lower Mainland.

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“In this regional area, there’s alternate means of transportation,” MADD BC’s Bob Rorison said. “But you get into the more rural parts of British Columbia — you get up to Kamloops or Prince George or any of those areas — those long back roads where kids go out and party in the bush, that’s where the tragedy happens because there’s no way to get home.”

Rorison said peer pressure is the best way to stop drunk driving among teens.

“If it’s not cool, then they won’t do it,” he said. “They’ll do what their friends do. If their friends won’t drive impaired, then they won’t drive impaired.”

The good news is the number of teen driving deaths is going down. The bad news? Young drivers still have the highest fatality rate in the province.

— With files from Randene Neill