Pubdate: Thu, 18 May 2017
Source: Record, The (Kitchener, CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Author: Johanna Weidner
Page: B2


One in three high school students reports riding with a driver who has
been drinking and one in five got in a car with a driver that consumed
marijuana, according to a new University of Waterloo study.

Half of all students in Grades 11 and 12 admitted to at least one
risky behaviour, either driving after drinking or using marijuana or
being a passenger in the car of an impaired driver.

"For half of kids to be putting themselves in that kind of risk seems
really high," said Leia Minaker, lead author on the paper and an
assistant professor at Waterloo.

Researchers at the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact found
that 35 per cent of students in Grades 9 to 12 reported riding in cars
with drivers who consumed at least one drink in the previous hour.
Close to 20 per cent rode in cars with a driver who used marijuana in
the previous two hours.

The numbers are concerning to Minaker, considering the exceptionally
high rate of deadly traffic accidents among youth, with alcohol and
drug impairment involved in a significant proportion of those crashes.

"More kids die of unintentional injuries than any other cause in
Canada," Minaker said.

About nine per cent of students in Grades 11 and 12 - or 66,600 teens
- - have driven within an hour of drinking, while 9.4 per cent have
driven after using marijuana.

Students in rural areas were more likely to drink and drive compared
to those from rural areas. Normally, in health studies researchers see
differences based on income, but not in this study. "It's everybody,"
Minaker said. Variations were found among the provinces, with students
in Saskatchewan having the highest rates of both drinking and
marijuana use before driving.

"Boys were more likely to do the risky driving behaviour," Minaker
said. "Girls were more likely to be the passenger."

She said the research can help inform effective policies and education
campaigns among youth, especially with the legalization of marijuana
in Canada looming. Provinces are allowed to create their own policies
to tighten the control of marijuana, and the priority should be
keeping it out of kid's hands, Minaker said. Educating students about
the risk of driving while high also needs to be a focus.

"We all know drinking and driving is dangerous," Minaker said. "A lot
of people don't realize the danger of using marijuana and then driving."

The study was recently published in Canadian Medical Association
Journal Open.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt