(RxWiki News) It's important to teach teens not to drive while under the influence. But there may be risk factors parents can watch for in doing so.
A recent study found that teens who had ridden with other drivers under the influence were at a higher risk for doing so themselves.
The more often a teen had ridden in the car with a driver who had been drinking or using illegal drugs, the more likely it was the teen would later drive after drinking or doing drugs.
The researchers also found that teens who got their driver's license earlier were a little more likely to drive while under the influence.
"Teach your teens not to ride or drive drunk."
The study, led by Kaigang Li, PhD, of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Maryland, looked at patterns related to teens' driving while drunk or high on drugs.
The researchers analyzed results to the NEXT Generation Study, which included surveying tenth graders three times starting in 2009-2010.
There were three "waves" to the study. During the first wave, 2,525 students were surveyed. A total of 2,432 students completed the second wave, and 2,408 students completed the third wave.
During all the waves, the teens were asked how many times in the past year they had ridden in a car with a driver who had been drinking or using drugs. They were also asked how long they had had a driver's license, questions related to their alcohol and drug use and questions regarding their parents' knowledge of their activities.
During the third wave, students were asked how many times in the past 30 days they had driven after drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs.
The researchers' analysis of the results revealed that teens who had ridden in the car with a drunk or high driver were more likely to drive drunk or high themselves later on.
Teens who reported having ridden with a drunk or high driver during the first wave were 11 times more likely to report driving while intoxicated during the third wave, compared to teens who had never ridden with a drunk driver.
Teens who reported riding with drunk drivers at all three waves were 127 times more likely to report driving while intoxicated at the third wave, compared to those who had never ridden with a drunk driver.
In addition, teens who already had their driver's licenses at the first wave were 1.8 times more likely to drive while intoxicated than teens who didn't have their license during that first wave.
"The experience of riding in a vehicle with an impaired driver increased the likelihood of future DWI among teenagers after licensure," the researchers wrote.
They added that the more exposure teens had to riding in car with drivers under the influence, the more likely it was that those teens would later do the same.
"The findings suggest that riding while intoxicated and early licensure could be important prevention targets," they wrote.
The study was published March 17 in the journal Pediatrics. The authors reported no conflicts of interest.
The research was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resource and Services Administration.