GAINESVILLE – Lt. Mike Burroughs of the Florida Highway Patrol describes them as “the fast and the furious” generation.
They are teenage drivers speeding on the state’s highways, and a recent University of Florida study reveals that speeding may not be their only risky behavior.
Psychiatrists at UF’s McKnight Brain Institute say that teenagers who break the speed limit are more likely than nonspeeding teens to gamble, use drugs or drink alcohol.
Teens who bet on sports or who scratch off lottery tickets are far more likely to risk their lives by driving above the speed limit than adolescents who do not gamble, they reported Monday at the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting in New Orleans.
“The implications for parents are huge,” said Dr. Mark Gold, a distinguished professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at UF’s College of Medicine. “Parents tend to view speeding as an island, rather than to say that it is a clue to other behaviors that could help them save their child’s life.”
Burroughs added: “Don’t sidestep the issue of how dangerous driving is. The number-one cause of death for a person between the ages of 15 and 34 is in a traffic crash, and yet we put our teenagers behind the wheel.”
For the study, funded by the nonprofit Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, UF researchers conducted telephone interviews with more than 1,000 Florida teens 13 to 17 about gambling activities, alcohol and drug use, mental health and speeding.
Of that group, the study focused on 15- to 17-years-olds who said they were drivers. Researchers said they think it is the first survey to indicate a correlation between speeding (driving 10 mph or more above the posted speed limit) and gambling.
“This is the first time that …
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