One quarter of Finnish youths aged 15-20 said they personally know someone who has driven while under the influence of drugs, according to a fresh survey commissioned by the Road Safety Council.
The survey was carried out by polling firm Kantar TNS and queried some 624 youth about their attitudes on driving under the influence of intoxicants.
The survey found that drugs play an increasing role in the lives of young people, and according to the road safety council's planner Laura Loikkanen, this development can also been seen on the roads.
"The [survey] results show that drugs have become a part of daily life of young people. That's why it can be seen on the roads. It's always a very big risk factor to drive while under the influence. It doesn't matter what drug you're on - you have no business being on the roads in that condition," Loikkanen said.
According to accident statistics, around one-third of all impaired driving incidents involve the driver having ingested intoxicants besides alcohol. The number of impaired drivers who were on illegal or prescription drugs has doubled over the past decade. And the trend appears to be growing, according to Loikkanen.
Negative attitudes toward impaired driving
The Road Safety Council survey showed that even though drugs seem to be becoming more commonplace, the youths' attitudes towards impaired driving are quite strict.
Some 94 percent of the young respondents said that driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a "serious" or "very serious" violation of Finland's traffic laws.
Loikkanen said that peer pressure plays a big role in preventing impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel.
"A brave buddy keeps his friend from driving while intoxicated, whether its alcohol or drugs," she said. "And his friend will probably thank his buddy the next morning at the latest."
More than one-third of drink- or drug driving accidents in Finland are caused by impaired drivers between the ages of 15-24, according to road safety council statistics.