How to Educate Your Teen About Drinking and Driving
Drinking & Driving In TeensAs much as we’d hate to admit it underage drinking does occur quite frequently. Teen drinking is a widespread issue. However, the dangers of underage alcohol use increase once a teenager steps behind the wheel. To prevent your child from going to jail, getting injured, or injuring someone else you should do your part to educate your teen about the dangers of drinking and driving. Teens will feel the pressure to drink from their peers, however, as a parent you can reduce their risk by preparing them for when this situation might arise.
The Guide To Drinking and Driving PreventionIncreased awareness and education can go a long way towards preventing intoxicated driving. However, the best means to prevent drinking and driving comes from the parent. By being a good example for your child and setting ground rules around drinking and driving you’ll help to lower their risk of being in a preventable accident.
1. Start EarlyIt’s never too early to start educating your child about the perils of drinking and driving. With the amount of peer pressure your child may be under it’s difficult to determine the age when they’re going to potentially start drinking. Preparation is crucial for reducing the risk of drinking and driving. It can be helpful to share statistics on the dangers of intoxicated driving, as well as, any stories you might know that’ll hit closer to home. The statistics are indeed sobering.
- 2,000 underage drinkers die each year behind the wheel and alcohol is a factor in 1/3 of all teenage auto fatalities.
- Young drivers are 17 times more likely to die in a crash when they have a blood alcohol concentration of .08%, than when they have not been drinking.
- 5,000 kids under 21 die each year as a result of underage drinking.
2. Be A Good Role ModelParents have a huge impact on the lives of their teens. Being a positive role model means setting a good example for your teen when it comes to drinking and driving. This means that you need to be aware of any tendencies you have regarding drinking and show a good example by always drinking responsibly. It’s also important not to condone drinking, or intoxicated driving in your friends. Be a good role model by always using a designated driver, or being the designated driver yourself. Even if your teen is in a rebellious phase they’ll still tend to follow what you do.
3. Enforce ConsequencesIf you have set rules and consequences about drinking and driving, or drinking in general, then make sure you actually enforce those consequences. Letting your teen off the hook will only promote dangerous behavior. Since driving is a great privilege for your teen create a driving contract that states you will take away their vehicle if they are drinking. Sometimes, the threat of being punished will prevent your teen from engaging in drinking and driving. However, make sure to communicate that you’re harsh around drinking and driving not because you’re trying to control your child, but because you’re trying to keep them safe and alive.
4. Give Your Teen An Easy OutIf your teen does cave into peer pressure and drink, it’s helpful to give them an easy out. Don’t make your teen fear the consequences of drinking so heavily that they’ll drive home in order to avoid getting caught. Set the expectation that if your teen does drink they can rely on you or a trusted friend to pick them up. Mistakes do happen, but drinking and driving can be avoided by providing a safe alternative.
Be A Proactive ParentAs a parent you need to be involved in your child’s life. This doesn’t mean you need to know every single detail, but it’s important to know who your teen’s friends and parents are. Get in touch with other parents to communicate your rules and expectations around alcohol. It’s also important to be on the lookout for warning signs that your teen might be drinking. Some of the common indicators include:
- A drastic change in peer group
- A sudden drop in grades
- Finding a fake ID
- Lowered interest in hobbies and family time
Sources: Stim, Rich.“Teen Drunk Driving: The Sobering Facts of Underage DUIs” NOLO. Web. 26 Jan 2016. . “Underage Drinking Statistics” MADD. Web. 26 Jan 2016. . “Teen Drinking and Driving” CDC, 2 Oct 2012. 26 Jan 2016. . Loyola University. “Drunk Driving Statistics & Facts.” Loyola University Medical Center Injury Prevention Program. 26 January 2016. http://www.stritch.luc.edu/depts/injprev/transprt/tran1-06.htm.