Catherine Lu is a 15 year-old from California. She loves reading novels and her favorite subject is English.
Drinking and driving is a serious (and deadly) issue, especially amongst teens. Every year, teens are killed in drug-related car crashes, causing grief and sorrow for all those involved. So what can parents do to warn their teens of the dangers of drinking and driving? Well, here is some information about drinking and driving, and what parents can do to make the roads safer for their teens.
Vanessa: What are some current statistics on teens drinking and driving?
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the leading cause of death among people ages 15-20 are car crashes. Approximately 19 people under the age of 21 die in car accidents that involve underage drinking each year.
- Drinking drivers between the ages 16 and 20 are twice as likely to be involved in a fatal car crash as drinking drivers aged 21 and older.
- 12.8% of fatal car crashes were alcohol-related, and 40% of that number involved teens driving under the influence in the U.S. alone.
- Each year, about one million people are involved in alcohol-related car crashes.
Vanessa: In what circumstances do teens usually drink and drive?
Teens usually drink and drive under social circumstances. Teens typically drink and drive after attending a party with friends where alcoholic beverages were served. This may be due to peer pressure and feeling the need to impress their friends by drinking. After having a couple of drinks, teens have the feeling of invincibility, like nothing can hurt them and no one can stop them. It’s feeling as if you’re on top of the world, but not in a good way. Excessive drinking results in a lack of judgment, and the inability to think of what’s in your best interest. While teens drink and drive, they tend to have slower reactions, often resulting in fatal car crashes.
Vanessa: What can parents do to prevent their teens from drinking and driving?
Here are some tips for parents to prevent their teens from drinking and driving:
- First, parents must never allow underage drinking. Even if it’s a one-time thing for a dinner party, your teen may be tempted to experiment with drinking again.
- Know where your teen is going and when they are scheduled to return home.
- Set up curfews for your teen (possibly two different times for weeknights and weekends), and always wait up for them to make sure they arrive home safely. Also, watch for any signs of drinking such as the odor of their breath, slurred speech, the inability to focus their eyes, and if they are unstable when walking.
- Teach your teen to be a safe passenger. In 50% of alcohol-related car crashes, those who are injured are actually the passengers in the car. Teach your teen to never ride in a car with a driver who has been drinking, even if they don’t seem drunk. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
- Lastly, set an example for your teen. Never let them see you drunk, or drive after a couple of drinks.
Vanessa: What should parents do if they catch their child drinking and driving?
There are various ways for parents to discipline their teens if they are caught drinking and driving:
- The first thing a parent should do is to take away their teen’s car privileges. Car privileges would be restricted only for school purposes such as driving to and from school, and driving to a classmate’s house only for a group project.
- Also, car privileges would be taken away on the weekends, meaning no social activities unless another driver is found.
- Make sure your child doesn’t have a drinking problem by finding out how often they have drunk in the past, and make sure they don’t it again. To make sure your teen doesn’t drink again, one may consider sending them to rehab, or at the very least, group therapy.
- Also, make sure your teen knows the consequences of drinking and driving. This may involve showing them statistics and news articles of others who drank and drive who weren’t so fortunate. That way they realize how lucky they are, and to also understand the serious issue of driving while under the influence.
All in all, drinking and driving is a serious issue, and one that can have dire consequences. Parents should make sure to inform their teens of drinking and driving, since many teens are starting to drive around the young age of sixteen. Hopefully, some of these tips help. And happy safe driving!
Photo: The Herald Post from Flickr