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Friends Influence Drunk Walking

Update Date: Jul 09, 2014 12:39 AM EDT

Drunk walking can be just as dangerous as its driving equivalent. New research from Australia reveals that peer pressure is the main driving factor of this type of risky behavior that kills at least two people on the continent every week.

Lead researcher Dr. Ioni Lewis from Queensland University of Technology's Center for Accident Research and Road Safety in Queensland surveyed people between the ages of 17 and 25.

They found that respondents were most likely to engage in risky behavior while intoxicated when they're friends were OK with it.

"Drink walking, or walking while intoxicated in a public place, is linked to increased risk of injury and fatality," Lewis said.

 The survey revealed that more than half of respondents said they had walked while inebriated in the last six months.

"The study found that the risks associated with drink walking were seen to be less dangerous than drink driving, however, research shows that in Australia on average 100 alcohol-affected pedestrians are killed each year," Lewis said.

"That equates to more than 5 per cent of all road crash fatalities," Lewis added.

"Drink walking may occur, for instance, when young people start drinking at home before heading out to pubs or clubs, or when they're walking between licensed venues," she said. "We now know that when young people who perceive their friends approve of drink walking and believe their friends engage in drink walking, that these young people are more likely to drink walk in the next six months."

The latest study found that young males were most likely to engage in drunk walking.

"If we can turn around the perception of young people that drink walking is not a low-risk activity and it is dangerous, then we may be able to reduce the injuries and fatalities."

The findings were published in Transportation Research.

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