Parents play a powerful role in predicting DUI

(Medical Xpress) -- Sipping the occasional glass of wine may seem relatively harmless, and could even be beneficial to the drinker’s health. But for parents, even moderate drinking can result in one unintended consequence: an increased risk their children will drive under the influence as adults.

Writing in the current issue of the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, University of Florida researchers found that about 6 percent of adolescents whose drank even sporadically reported driving under the influence at age 21, compared with just 2 percent of those whose parents did not imbibe.

“The main idea is that parents’ alcohol use has an effect on their kids’ behavior,” said Mildred Maldonado-Molina, an associate professor of health outcomes and policy with the UF College of Medicine and the lead author of the paper. “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.”

It’s typical for parents to worry about the influence of their children’s friends and peers, and the study shows that peer behavior can have an effect, particularly on kids who aren’t exposed to alcohol at home. Having friends who drink alcohol was a risk factor for driving under the influence for teens whose parents did not drink. Also, kids whose parents and peers consumed alcoholic beverages were especially at risk for driving under the influence. About 11 percent of these teens reported driving under the influence in their 20s.

But when it comes to influence, parents seem to have more sway than they probably realize, Maldonado-Molina said. According to the study, if a teen’s parents were drinkers, what their peers did had less of an impact, though the relationship between peer and parental influence is complex, she said.

“I think it is really important to understand the influence of parents and peers,” said Tara Kelley-Baker, a senior research scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation who was not involved with the study. “Parents must understand the influence they have on their children. Some parents just assume they have lost their influence or that they never had it. Research has shown more and more that this is not the case.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 10,000 people die because of drunken driving each year.

For the study, UF researchers examined data from nearly 10,000 adolescents that was collected as part of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The study initially collected data from teens and their parents and then surveyed the children again seven years later.

The influence of peers and parents seemed to affect men and women the same way. The researchers found no significant difference in risk factors between the genders, a surprising discovery. Not as much is known about women and DUI because most studies look at official records and arrests and women are less likely to be charged with DUI than men, though the gap is closing, Maldonado-Molina said.

“Their risk factors are similar and that calls for attention when developing interventions and prevention efforts,” Maldonado-Molina says.

When it comes to curbing DUI, prevention efforts need to start before age 15 to help instill the consequences of getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol, the researchers say. And education efforts need to include not only children, but their parents as well.

“The home is a really important source for these kids,” Maldonado-Molina said. “(Parents’) may not perceive their drinking as negative, but it what is acceptable behavior.”

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Family relationships may protect early teens from alcohol use

Jun 07, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Close family relationships may protect teenagers from alcohol use, according to research by The University of Queensland’s Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research (CYSAR) and the Centre for Adolescent ...

Parents fear sex advice will fall on deaf ears

Jan 07, 2011

Kids learn a great deal about sexuality from friends and from the media, but parents and teens agree: Parents should be the most important providers of information about sex and sexuality.

Recommended for you

AMA examines economic impact of physicians

13 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Physicians who mainly engage in patient care contribute a total of $1.6 trillion in economic output, according to the American Medical Association (AMA)'s Economic Impact Study.

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

13 hours ago

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

13 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Adiaphoron
not rated yet Sep 07, 2011
Now for the more important study. Having found the correlation between parental drinking and later child driving habits, is there a parenting strategy mitigates the risk or even correlates with decreased DUI likelihood (like expressing awareness of the impact of drinking on driving and making a point to avoid driving after even one drink)?