Drugs and Teens - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

09/16/03 - East Texas

Drugs and Teens

It's a message most teens have heard - don't drink and drive. But the message about driving under the influence of drugs hasn't been as loud.

"An estimated 38 thousand in the survey conducted in 2001 nationally admitted they had crashed an automobile while under the influence of marijuana," said John Walters, Office of National Drug Control Policy.

According to an analysis of government data, one in six 18-year olds say they have driven while high.

Ted Stevens was one of those teens. Now 19, at a news conference he said he started smoking pot when he was 14 and had four serious car crashes, all while high.

"I saw nothing wrong with smoking and getting behind the wheel of a vehicle in fact sometimes I believe it increased my driving performance," Stevens said.

A survey by students against destructive decisions and the insurance company liberty mutual found 41 percent of teens were not concerned about driving after using drugs.

But a partnership between government, private companies and interest groups is promoting a new campaign against driving while under the influence of drugs.

Supporters of legalizing marijuana agree with the message - don't drive while high. But say it doesn't address the fundamental problem that too many kids are smoking pot.

"In no way would we ever suggest kids should be smoking or adults should be smoking but we feel if it's regulated we will be able to minimize the number of kids who are smoking," said Steve Fox from the Marijuana Policy Project.

Organizers of the campaign against drugged-driving admit they can only do so much. They say the most important message about not using drugs won't come from them or television ads, but from parents.

For more information about marijuana, impaired driving and advice on raising drug-free teens, visit www.theantidrug.org.

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