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Study: exposure to drunk driving increases risk of DWI in teens

A recent study published by the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development has found that when teenagers ride in vehicles driven by impaired drivers, they are more likely to drive while drunk or high on drugs themselves. Although this is certainly an important statistic and one that certainly should be explored more in-depth, reports on the study fail to focus on the more immediate dangers -- teenagers riding with impaired drivers.

Many of us in Pittsburgh think of drunk drivers causing severe or fatal accidents in which another driver or someone in a different car suffers serious injuries, but it is just as possible for a passenger within the drunk driver's vehicle to be injured in the crash. Whether the passenger is intoxicated him- or herself is not important; passengers should not be hurt by their drivers.

This study looked at a group of 2,500 sophomores in high school and issued three surveys, one for their final three years of high school. The survey asked if they had been driven within the last year by someone who had been impaired, but it never asked who had been driving. Though it makes sense not to ask such a question for fear of getting skewed results, it is important to know just who is driving these teenagers while intoxicated.

Sadly, drunk driving can cause very serious injuries, wrongful death, and tremendous pain and suffering. Fortunately, there are legal options available for those injured by drunk drivers. Not only can they seek compensation with a personal injury, but it also gives them a chance to make drunk drivers pay for their poor choices.

Source: USA Today, “Riding with impaired drivers increases teens' DUI risks,” Michelle Healy, March 17, 2014

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