Vanessa: What are some current statistics on teens drinking and driving?
- According to the National Traffic Safety Administration and the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, 31% of all 15 to 20 year olds had been drinking when killed in a car accident, and 25% of them were alcohol impaired. (http://www.aboutdwi.com)
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports twenty-three percent of teenage drivers in fatal car crashes possessed a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) level above the legal limit of .08 on the breathalyzer test (http://www.aboutdwi.com)
- Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens and one out of three of those is alcohol related. (http://MADD.org)
Vanessa: In what circumstances do teens usually drink and drive?
Teenager drunk-driving is usually the most prevalent after parties or social events involving alcohol and groups of friends. Under circumstances like these, it is more likely for teens to drink and drive for a few reasons. The first one being that they see others around them or at the party driving home drunk or they’ve heard about other people driving drunk and making it home safely and so they assume that there’s no harm in doing it too. Also, a lot of teens go to parties without parents knowing, and then they proceed to get drunk and are too afraid to call home and ask for a ride for fear of the consequences.
Vanessa: What can parents do to prevent their teens from drinking and driving?
Be connected with your teen. Research has shown that the number one reason teens refuse to drink alcohol is that they worry about what their parents will think of them (stanfordhospital.org). By being involved and doing little things like checking up on your teen and letting them know you truly do care about their safety, you can help prevent them from drunk driving. Also, it is a good idea to have your teen lay out before hand where exactly they are going, the details (such as who’s going to being there and how they are going to get home), that way you can set up a plan, such as agreeing to meet them when they come in and have a conversation with them, that way they will be less inclined to drink and drive. Lastly, make sure that you let them know that they should not be afraid to give you a call and ask for a ride if they do end up making a mistake and drinking.
Vanessa: What should parents do if they catch their teens drinking and driving?
First of all, all though this one seems obvious, educate them on drunk driving and the consequences that come along with it; give them materials and show them examples and scenarios of how they could have possibly fatally impacted their life or somebody else’s. In addition, remind them that you have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to the illegal use of alcohol. Lastly, do not let them off the hook. Make sure that you work out some sort of punishment or consequence with your teen (this one is unique to how you parent so it is important to work out something that will work for your teenager since you know them best) to show them that what they did was not right at all and that they should never repeat their actions.
Photo Credit: Tobascopanini from Flickr