Children becoming victims of drivers under alcohol and marijuana influence

Children becoming victims of drivers under alcohol and marijuana influence

It is unfortunate that every day 28 Americans lose their lives to motor vehicle crashes (amounting to one death every 51 minutes) involving an alcohol-impaired driver, as estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Moreover, 16 percent of the total traffic deaths among children up to the age of 14 in 2015 involved an alcohol-impaired driver. In the same year, there were 111 million self-reported cases of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Based on the above facts, it is not surprising when a  study by the University of Waterloo reported that one in three high school students rode with a drunk driver while nearly one in five traveled with a driver who had consumed marijuana. According to the researchers, 35 percent students in grades 9 to 12 were found riding in cars with drivers who were intoxicated with at least one drink within the previous hour while nearly 20 percent reported to have rode with a driver under the effects of marijuana within last two hours.

Leia Minaker, lead author on the paper and an assistant professor at Waterloo, expressed her concern over the findings and acknowledged the higher risk of death from traffic injuries looming on children in this age group. When it comes to drink and drive, even the students are not missing this dangerous fun. The study found about 9 percent students in Grades 11 and 12 (amounting to 66,600 teens) driving within an hour of drinking while 9.4 percent driving after using marijuana. They found that boys had a higher likelihood of driving under the influence while girls were at greater risk of being driven in an unsafe manner.

Discussing the gravity of the situation, Minaker said that while the risk between alcohol-impaired driving and accidents is well known the consequences of marijuana use are still clouded. She emphasized that the need of the hour is to keep the addictive substance away from kids and create effective policies to reduce marijuana-impaired driving.

Need of effective laws to protect children

A 2014 study published in the Health Behavior and Policy Review had checked on the driving-under-the-influence (DUI) child endangerment laws, and analyzed their role in ensuring protection of children who had to ride with alcohol or drug impaired drivers. The analysis showed that even the major modifications in DUI-endangerment laws across states could not adequately control the prevalence of child fatalities involving an intoxicated driver.

It was found that only 42 of the 51 jurisdictions had provisions to address DUI-child endangerment in their statutes. Of the jurisdictions that addressed the concerns, many lacked those elaborate policies that are protective of the safety of child passengers. For example, eight states with DUI-child passenger statutes had restrictions on the age of the driver while children were categorized as being younger than age 16. Jurisdictions that do not apply age-related restrictions may help protect more children from the risks related to riding in motor vehicles with alcohol-impaired drivers.

Treating alcohol addiction

Alcohol addiction is not only dangerous for the user but it jeopardizes lives of other people as well. It cripples life by impairing social and personal happiness, devastating relationships and affecting the brain in myriad ways. Even a one-time experience can prove to be fatal. In order to steer clear away from the harmful effects, one must seek professional help at the earliest. Sobriety is the key to a happy and healthy life.

The Alcohol Addiction Helpline of California helps people by offering useful information about alcohol addiction treatment facilities in California that provide evidence-based intervention plans in a safe and secure environment. You can call our 24/7 helpline 855-980-1715 or contact us over chat to get information on inpatient treatment for alcoholism in California.

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