Study finds that high prevalence of riding with an impaired peer or older adult driver occurs mostly with alcohol- or marijuana-impaired peer drivers
A new study examined the prevalence and covariates among emerging adults of riding with an impaired peer or older adult driver (RWI) because of marijuana, alcohol, or illicit drugs. The sample consisted of respondents from Wave 4 (n = 2,085) and Wave 5 (n = 2,116) of the NEXT Generation Health Study, collected one year and two years after high school. Respondents were asked a series of questions related to riding with alcohol-/drug-impaired drivers heavy episodic drinking, marijuana use, environmental status variables such as current residence, school status, and work status as well as demographics. The authors used multinomial logistic regressions estimate the bivariate associations of Wave 5 RWI with each covariate (i.e., substance-specific RWI, Wave 4 RWI, Wave 5 heavy episodic drinking, marijuana use, and school/residence/work status). Results showed that Wave 4 RWI increased the likelihood of RWI at Wave 5 with an alcohol-impaired peer driver by 4.28 times (p < .001), an alcohol-impaired older adult driver by 2.69 times (p = .04), a marijuana-impaired peer driver by 2.34 times (p < .001), and a marijuana-impaired older adult driver by 3.56 times (p = .01). On the other hand, overall Wave 4 RWI was not associated with illicit drugs-specific RWI at Wave 5. That is, at Wave 5, 33% of participants reported RWI in the past year, including riding with alcohol- (21%), marijuana- (17%), and illicit drugs- (5%) impaired peer drivers and alcohol- (2%), marijuana- (4%), and illicit drugs- (0.7%) impaired older adult drivers. Wave 5 heavy episodic drinking was positively associated with Wave 5 peer alcohol-related RWI and peer/older adult marijuana-related RWI. Wave 5 marijuana use was positively associated with Wave 5 peer alcohol-related RWI, peer/older adult marijuana-related, and peer/older adult illicit drugs-related RWI. With respect to attending college, those not attending four-year college were 6.85 (p = .05) and those attending community college or technical schools were 11.50 (p = .02) times as likely to ride with an illicit drugs-impaired peer driver. Otherwise, residence and school status variables were not significantly associated with either RWI.
Take away: This study found that 33% of participants reported riding with an impaired peer or older adult driver (RWI) at least once in the past year and that participants reported high rates of past-year RWI with impaired peers relative to impaired older adult drivers.
Li, K., Ochoa, E., Vaca, F. E., & Simons-Morton, B. (2018). Emerging Adults Riding With Marijuana-, Alcohol-, or Illicit Drug–Impaired Peer and Older Drivers. Journal of studies on alcohol and drugs, 79(2), 277-285.