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A Third of Young Adults Have Ridden With an Impaired Driver, NIH Analysis Suggests

Media Advisory

Monday, March 19, 2018

Marijuana impairment cited most in study of recent high school graduates.


Roughly a third of recent high school graduates have ridden in a motor vehicle with a substance-impaired driver, according to a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health & other institutions. The study found that during the first two years after high school graduation, 23 percent of young adults had ridden with a marijuana-impaired driver at least once, while 20 percent had ridden with an alcohol-impaired driver, & 6 percent had ridden with a driver impaired by glue or solvents or harder, illicit drugs, such as amphetamines, opioids, cocaine.

The analysis was conducted by researchers at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD); Colorado State University, Fort Collins; the Colorado School of Public Health, Denver; & Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. Their results appear in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

The authors analyzed data from NICHD’s NEXT Generation Health Study, a seven-year study of more than 2,700 U.S. adolescents starting at grade 10. Its goal is to identify the social, behavioral & genetic factors linked to health & healthy behaviors. Along with NICHD, funding for the NEXT Generation Health Study was provided by NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute & the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resources & Services Administration.

The authors noted that having ridden with an impaired driver in the past was linked to a higher risk of driving while impaired & of riding with an impaired driver in the future. Other factors that increased the risk for riding with an impaired driver were living alone and not attending a four-year college. For young adults in the study who attended a four-year college, living on campus increased their risk of riding with an impaired driver.

The authors called for enhancements to informational programs that educate young people on the risks of riding with impaired drivers.


Bruce Simons-Morton, Ed.D., Health Behavior Branch, NICHD.


Li, K. et al. Emerging adults riding with marijuana, alcohol, or illicit drug-impaired peer and older drivers. Journal of Studies on Alcohol & Drugs, 79(2), 277-286. doi:10.15288/jsad.2018.79.277.

About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): NICHD conducts & supports research in the United States and throughout the world on fetal, infant & child development; maternal, child & family health; reproductive biology & population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit NICHD’s website.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes & Centers & is a component of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting & supporting basic, clinical, & translational medical research, & is investigating the causes, treatments, & cures for both common & rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health®


Source: nih.gov

Updated: March 20, 2018 — 7:09 pm

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