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26% of Teens Drive Drunk or on Drugs

Survey of Teen Drivers: DUI, Other Unsafe Driving Common
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 20, 2006 -- More than one in four teens who drive say they've driven drunk or on drugs.

The findings come from a nationally representative survey of 903 teens with drivers' licenses at 26 high schools. Promised confidentiality, the teens filled out the 160-question surveys during homeroom or study hall.

Boys were more likely than girls to report driving under the influence. But teens whose parents set consequences for breaking the law while driving were less likely to report DUI and other unsafe driving behaviors.

Not surprisingly, teens say they drive less safely when they're with friends than when they have a parent or guardian in the car.

The survey found that:

  • The biggest driving distraction for teens is text messaging via cell phone.
  • Half of teens say they speed more than 5 miles per hour over the speed limit when driving alone.
  • 42% of teens say they talk on the cell phone when driving alone.
  • 84% of teens say they toy with the radio when driving alone.
  • Teens see their parents as the safest drivers. Yet they say their friends influence their driving more than their parents do.
  • Teens aren't interested in attending advanced driving school -- although a third of teens say they'd attend if it saved them money on car insurance.

Guideline Inc. performed the study on behalf of Liberty Mutual and Students Against Destructive Decisions. Guideline says the survey has an error margin of 3.3%.

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