Save Our Teen Drivers

Advocating for driver's education changes. Educating the public on the problem. Finding a solution that saves lives.

Alcohol isn’t the only substance that lead to teen car crashes

Posted by lapearce on August 19, 2009

About a third of fatal teen crashes involved alcohol. It is a scary number and it obviously means that something needs to be done about this epidemic of drunk driving from teen drivers. Lack of understanding of their tolerances, and the feel of invincibility makes teens more susceptible to drinking and driving, even if they cannot legally drink. Just last week a local teen, Milad Moulayi, was found guilty of second degree murder when, at the age of 17, he drove his mother’s Mercedes Benz at speeds in excess of 100mph down a city street, crossed into on coming traffic and hit a light pole, killing his 16-year-old passenger. He had a bac of .11.

While parents need to talk to their teens about the dangers of drinking and driving and make sure they know that you are always able to pick them up and drive them home no matter where they are or what time it is, there are other substances that need to be discussed as well.

One of these substances is pot. The NHTSA found that while drunk driving is decreasing, stoned driving is on the upswing. On any given night roughly 9% of drivers are high on marijuana, compared to just over 2% who hit the bottle before getting on the road.

The biggest problem with driving while stoned is that the driver often thinks that they are driving just fine and many times often think they are safer drivers than when sober, as a NHTSA focus group found. However, a recent study showed that slow reaction time makes stoned driving just as dangerous as drunk driving.

Over the counter drugs are also a problem. About 4 percent of night time drivers are under the influence of prescription pills, many illegally. This problem is especially prevalent among teens, who raid their parents medicine cabinets or buy their classmate’s medication at school. It is estimated that 1 in 5 teens abuse presription paint drugs. Many of these pills carry that familiar warning: may cause drowsiness, do not drive or operate heavy machinery.

The dangers don’t stop at typical drugs that we expect, there are other meneses out there that are discounted because they aren’t seen as a drug. Huffing, the act of inhaling materials such as electronic duster or spray paint for a high is a dangerous fad among teens. These products are easy to get and a lot of teens feel that they are safe because they aren’t drugs. But the effects of huffing can be very dangerous and even more so behind the wheel.

The symptoms of huffing are: dizziness, strong hallucinations, delusions, belligerence, apathy, and impaired judgment. Additional symptoms exhibited by long-term inhalant abusers include weight loss, muscle weakness, disorientation, inattentiveness, lack of coordination, irritability, and depression. Withdrawal symptoms include sweating, rapid pulse, hand tremors, insomnia, nausea or vomiting, hallucinations, and, in severe cases, grand mal seizures.

This isn’t a list of symptoms one would want to experience while driving. On August 3rd 17 year old Christine Manchester inhaled from a can of an aerosol duster while driving. According to a passenger she then: “got a blank stare on her face, her body became rigid, and the car went off the road and hit two trees.”

This is still just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to substances that can get your teen into trouble. When you talk to your teen about drinking and driving make sure to bring up other substances as well. Also, be aware of what the signs are of drug abuse and be aware of what your teen is doing. Let your new driver know that you are always there to pick them up if they aren’t in a state to drive. Getting them home safely is more important than what ever rule they broke or stupid thing they did. That comes first, punishment can come later.


One Response to “Alcohol isn’t the only substance that lead to teen car crashes”

  1. Aah perfect! This is exactly what I was searching for!

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