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Study: Nearly a quarter of teens drive while under the influence

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 21 May 2013 06:02am | comments

Nearly a quarter of the nations teens admit to driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or prescription drugs at some point. That's according to a recent study by Students Against Destructive Decisions. Many of those impaired underage drivers don't view themselves as a danger.  

 

View study here.

 

During this year’s  summer vacation season it is estimated that as many as 3 million drunk and stoned teens will take to the nations roadways including here in Mississippi. Lt. Johnny Poulus, Director of Public Affairs for the Mississippi Highway Patrol says many of those drivers will be operating under the delusion that they are indestructible.  

"They're getting behind the wheel and saying 'I'm only going to drink a certain amount and I will be fine,' and that's just not how it is.  Mississippi continuously ranks, first, second or third, forth or fifth in the nation in teenaged driving fatalities, drinking and driving is always going to be a problem for us, they're our future and we're losing too many," says Poulus.

 

Over the past year Highway Patrol Officer Charles White of Troupe F in New Albany has arrested 315 motorist for Driving under the influence.  He says a growing number of those receiving DUI's are teenagers.

 

"I had one, last two weeks, turns up and get on on-ramp, runs off the on-ramp, find them there on the side of the road,the  car still in drive and the keys still in the ignition, sitting there, passed out and severely intoxicated about 7 times the limit, so that's after a graduation party, when you have a party like that, you're going to run into teens a lot more," describes White.      

 

The survey highlights the vital role of parents in keeping teens safe behind the wheel. Jan Withers, National President of Mothers Against Drunk Driving says it's a lesson that hit home when her 15 year old daughter was killed by an underage drunken driver.

 

"I did talk to my teenagers about the dangers of drinking and the boundaries of our family and the expectations.  I knew that they understood how I felt and so I didn't have the discussion frequently so now the research tells us that frequent communication is extremely important so I encourage every parent to have that conversation frequently with their teenager," emphasizes Withers.    

 

According to the Department of Public Safety sixty seven Mississippi teens died last year because they either didn't buckle up or chose to drink and drive. 

 

 

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