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Drugs and Driving by American High School Seniors, 2001-2006

Patrick M. O'Malley, Lloyd D. Johnston

Objective: The aim of this study was to report trends from 2001 to 2006 in the percentage of all high school seniors who drive after using marijuana, other illicit drugs, or alcohol or who are exposed as passengers to such behaviors. A second objective is to examine demographic and psychosocial correlates of these behaviors. Method: The data were obtained from the Monitoring the Future study, in which nationally representative samples of high school seniors have been surveyed annually since 1975. Results: In 2006, 30% of high school seniors reported exposure to a drugged or drinking driver in the past 2 weeks, down from 35% in 2001. Exposure was demonstrated to be widespread as defined by demographic characteristics (population density, region of the country, socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, and family structure). Individual lifestyle factors (religiosity, grade point average, truancy, frequency of evenings out for fun, and hours of work) showed considerable association with the outcome behaviors. Conclusions: Impaired driving by youth remains a problem needing serious attention despite some progress in recent years. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs 68: 834-842, 2007)