As if the thought of teenagers driving before they've gotten their license isn't scary enough, a new study finds these same kids are also more likely to drive while drinking or on drugs, and more apt to not buckle up when they get behind the wheel.

Reporting in the November issue of Pediatrics, researchers found that about one in every 25 U.S. unlicensed teens drives at least one hour per week.

"These kids are getting out without supervision and putting themselves and others on the road at risk," said study senior author Dr. Flaura Winston, co-director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

In total, 4.2 percent of these teens reported at least some unlicensed driving. Teens who reported unlicensed driving were more likely to drink, with 51 percent reporting having had a drink in the past month. Unlicensed drivers were twice as likely as licensed teens to "sometimes" use alcohol or drugs while driving. Those with lower grades were also more likely to be unlicensed drivers. Almost half of unlicensed drivers reported that they didn't use their seatbelts all the time.

Source: U.S. News & World Report
http://health.usnews.com/articles/health/healthday/2008/11/03/many-unlicensed-teen-drivers-put-safety-last.html