Teens whose parents drink and drive are much more likely to do so themselves, a new US government study finds. The research, from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), suggests that parents’ behaviour behind the wheel has a very strong influence on teenagers. ‘Data Spotlight: Adolescents Living with a Parent Who Drives Under the Influence Are at Increased Risk for Driving Under the Influence Themselves’, is based on data analysed from SAMHSA’s 2002 – 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The study was based on national survey data of roughly 67,500 people aged 12 and older.
The SAMHSA researchers found that more than 18% of 16- and 17-year olds living with a mother who drove under the influence of drugs or alcohol had also driven under the influence. In contrast, only about 11% of teens living with a mother who didn’t drive after drinking engaged in this risky behavior.
Fathers may even wield a greater influence. The study found that 21.4% of teens living with fathers who drove under the influence also drove after drinking or taking drugs, compared to 8.4% of teens whose fathers didn’t drink and drive.
SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde said “Parents play a key role in preventing drunk and drugged driving, beginning with setting a good example... Parents who drink, or drug, and drive not only put their lives and the lives of others at immediate risk, but increase the likelihood that their children will follow down this destructive path.”