Parents’ Drinking May Increase Risk of Children’s Driving Under the Influence

Teens whose parents drink are more likely to drive under the influence (DUI) when they are adults compared with children with non-drinking parents, a new study suggests. The study found the risk of DUI was increased even if parents’ drinking was moderate.

The study found 6 percent of teenagers whose parents drank, even just once in awhile, said they drove under the influence when they were 21, compared with 2 percent of those whose parents did not drink, HealthDay reports.

The results are published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention.

“The main idea is that parents’ alcohol use has an effect on their kids’ behavior,” study lead author, Mildred Maldonado-Molina of the University of Florida College of Medicine, said in a university news release. “It’s important for parents to know that their behavior has an effect not only at that developmental age when their kids are adolescents, but also on their future behavior as young adults.”

The researchers surveyed almost 10,000 teens and their parents, and conducted a second survey of the same group seven years later. The study found parents had more influence on their children’s driving than the teens’ friends did, but peer pressure did have an effect. Teens with friends who drink alcohol are more likely to drive under the influence, even when their parents do not drink at home, the study found. Teens are at highest risk when they have both friends and parents who drink alcohol: 11 percent of these teens said they drove under the influence when they were in their 20s.

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