Teens of today are certainly not intimidated by marijuana, a new study finds. Students in 11th and 12th grades are at risk for using marijuana, and more dangerously, driving while under the influence.
The study was done by Liberty Mutual Insurance, along with SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions). It found that nearly one in five (19%) teens say they have gotten behind the wheel after smoking pot, and that 70% of teens say marijuana use is “very” or “extremely” distracting to their driving. (1) These kids are barely old enough to drive, and their parents are paying high premiums to include them on car insurance plans — yet they feel comfortable enough to drive after smoking pot!
This study gives parents and teachers a lot to think about concerning the marijuana message being sent to our kids. There’s “a dangerous trend toward the acceptance of marijuana and other substances compared to our study of teens conducted just two years ago,” says Stephen Wallace, senior adviser for policy, research and education at SADD.
He says the study’s findings are disturbing “both in terms of the increased use of marijuana and from the perspective that many think this is not a danger.” (1)
Not only do teens think using marijuana and driving under its influence is harmless, but this study suggests that some teens think they are even better drivers while high. “We hear from young people who believe that marijuana actually makes them a safer driver, that they concentrate harder, drive slower,” Wallace says. In reality, marijuana affects memory, judgment, and perception, all things that must be in working order to drive safely. (1)
This study should send a powerful message to all parents that they need to start talking to their child about the dangers of smoking marijuana, and driving while high.
It highlights the need “to get the message out about the dangers of marijuana impairment,” says Tom Hedrick of the advocacy group, The Partnership at Drugfree.org. “It’s a wake-up call for parents about the importance of having this conversation” with their teens. (1)
Parents, the #1 thing you should do is talk to your kids, but it shouldn’t stop there. Give your kids the tools to be safe and get out of dangerous situations. Parenting experts suggest they set up code words with their teen to use in a text message when they need a safe ride home. It may sound funny at first, but you can draft a driving contract with their teen that says your teen will not drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, nor will they ride with anyone else in such a condition.
Even though, statistically, teens are at greater risk for abusing marijuana, parents shouldn’t feel helpless. Teens are still very impressionable, and proactive parents can give their teens the right information and tools to raise drug-free children.
This article was written by Bethany Winkel
Joining the TSN online family in 2008, Bethany has used her skills as a writer to reach many people through her blog. Always eager to be a help to others, she is pleased to see her writing become a source of information, encouragement, and hope for those impacted by substance abuse. Bethany is happy to be involved with an organization that is making a difference in the lives of others. Bethany has also held the position of development coordinator for a nonprofit youth center for the past 6 years. With her expertise in grant writing, Bethany has raised over $1 million for programming that benefits at-risk youth. The happy mother of 4 young children, Bethany juggles her writing from home with spending time with her family. If her hours of research for her TSN blog articles have taught her one thing, it is to be an involved parent who takes time to listen to her kids.