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Study: Some teens think drinking makes them better drivers

While schools in Iowa have taken an active role in discouraging teens from drinking and driving, many teenage drivers still believe they are invincible and decide to get behind the wheel after drinking or using marijuana. Some of these teens even believe they are better drivers while under the influence. Of course, these type of behaviors and attitudes can greatly increase the chances of getting into a drunk driving accident.

Recently the results of a survey conducted by Liberty Mutual and Students Against Destructive Decisions, commonly known as SADD, was released. In that survey, 23 percent of teens admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or prescription drugs. In these cases the prescription drugs were not taken legally.

The study went on to ask teens about their attitudes on driving under the influence. From these questions it was discovered that many of those who do drive under the influence do not consider it dangerous. In fact, 20 percent of those who drink and drive think the alcohol makes them better drivers. Of those who drive while under the influence of marijuana, 34 percent believe the drug improves their driving abilities.

Understandably, hearing these statistics is scary for parents and other motorists on the Iowa roads and highways. Considering the fact that 40 percent of fatalities and serious injuries in Iowa involve teens and young adults, knowing many teens are engaging in extremely risky driving behaviors without even realizing the dangers is enough to make anyone feel uneasy.

The hope though is that many of the programs, like the mock crashes put on by the Iowa Governor's Traffic Safety Board or the 3-D simulator that imitates high-risk driving situations, will continue to enforce the message that driving under the influence is dangerous.

Additionally, even though parents may believe their teenage sons and daughters are being told not to drink and drive at school, it should still be re-enforced at home to really drive the message home. Especially with prom, graduation and summer break right around the corner, now is the time to talk about the very real dangers of impaired driving.

Source: Iowa City Press Citizen, "Survey: 23% of teenagers drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs," Sharyn Jackson, April 24, 2013

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