A new study has found one in three high school students has ridden with a driver who has been drinking, while nearly one in five has been in a car with a driver who has smoked marijuana.
“This research is drawn from the Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey, we surveyed about 25,000 kids from across Canada in all 10 provinces from grades nine to 12,” said Leia Minaker, lead author on the paper and an assistant professor at the University of Waterloo.
The research also found about nine per cent of Grade 11 and 12 students had driven within either an hour of drinking alcohol or within two hours of smoking marijuana.
Boys were more likely to drive after drinking or using marijuana, while girls were more likely to have been passengers of drivers who had been drinking.
Students in rural areas are also at a greater risk of drinking and driving than students from larger urban centres, the survey found.
“This is certainly a public health problem because motor vehicle collisions are actually the leading cause of death among the age group of 16- to 25-year-olds and alcohol and drug impairment factors into just over half of those deaths.”
Students in Saskatchewan and the Atlantic provinces reported the highest rates of either driving impaired or riding with a driver who was impaired while students in Alberta and Ontario reported relatively lower rates.
“There’s quite a bit of provincial variation, which to me, means there’s room for provincial policy action in creating stricter policies around youth access to alcohol,” Minaker said.
“As the federal government and the provinces deal with the legalization and regulation of recreational marijuana use, they’re going to need to address youth access as well.”
The study was recently published in Canadian Medical Association Journal Open.
Click here to read Minaker’s Under the Influence study and its findings.