The figures are startling. Between the ages of sixteen and twenty, drivers are 17 times more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash if they have drunk alcohol compared to young, sober drivers. In fact, the leading cause of death for people aged between fifteen and twenty-four is drunk driving. Thankfully, these statistics are less than half of what they were back in the early 90s. Nevertheless, there are still too many fatalities and serious injuries caused by drunk driving among the youth. This is why it’s our role as parents and teachers to impart this knowledge to the young people in our lives. Even though one in ten teenagers will drink alcohol and still get behind the wheel, we can do much more to lower this figure.
Why it’s important not to make assumptions about teenagers drinking and driving
Parents often mistake assuming that their child already knows the consequences of drunk driving. And, while they may be aware of the obvious like crashing, injuries, death, and getting into trouble with the police. They might be of the mindset of “it’ll never happen to me”. What’s more, they might not think (as teens frequently don’t) beyond the immediate. They might not be working about expulsion from school or university for drunk driving. To them, it might just be something that happens to other people. So, however well-informed you believe your child to be, presume they know nothing and educate away!
Ways to educate teenagers about drunk driving #1 start educating them young
Preventing impaired driving in your teen starts at home, and it starts much younger than driving age. Being open and honest with your child from a young age about why you don’t drink alcohol when you’re driving is essential. Don’t just say ‘it’s not allowed’ or ‘you’ll get in trouble with the police, explain to them about what alcohol does to your body and your reaction times and why this means you’re a danger to life behind the wheel.
Ways to educate teenagers about drunk driving #2 have rules that come with consequences
Make sure you explain to your teen that they absolutely cannot drink any alcohol at all if they’re driving, not even a sip. Ensure that they know the law regarding this and what happens if they break it. There are many great resources and essay samples out there, and parents can easily find drunk driving essays to help them address this issue. Parents can easily tell their teenagers what could happen in no uncertain terms: they could end up in jail, lose their driver’s license, be kicked out of school, not be accepted into college or university, or at worst, be killed or killed by someone else. Many parents choose to produce a written driving agreement to show just how serious an issue is.
Ways to educate teenagers about drunk driving #3 teach them about peer pressure and how to overcome it
The teenage years are all about self-discovery, finding yourself, and what makes you tick. During this time, there is a lot of peer pressure as teens try to see where they fit in the world. Many teenagers begin drinking if their friends do or their friends encourage them to. If you’ve got teens, sit down with them and talk to them about this happening. Remember, the majority of teens won’t be drinking a nice, cool glass of beer for the taste – they will be drinking anything they can with the sole purpose of getting drunk. Discuss with your teenager how they would react if they were offered an alcoholic drink at a party they had driven to. Also, teach them how to turn down a ride if the person who is going has a drink. Importantly, tell them you’ll always be there to pick them up without reservation or punishment if they end up somewhere and they can’t get home if either they or their driver has had a drink.
Ways to educate teenagers about drunk driving #4 set a good example
All children and teens learn by what they see. If your teen sees parents and their friends getting into a drunken stupor every weekend, this will become their normal. Parents need to practice what they preach – don’t drink to excess, don’t joke about drunkenness and alcohol, and never imply that alcohol makes problems better, i.e., by saying things like “I’ve had a hard day, pass the wine”.
Ways to educate teenagers about drunk driving #5 knowledge is power
For them and you, make sure you get to know their friends and friendship groups and what makes them tick. Encourage your teenagers to befriend others who don’t like drinking. Communicate with their friends and their friends’ parents. If you are unhappy with the friendships your child has made, there’s little you can do by way of preventing such a friendship. Often, in adolescence, teenagers will rebel against harsh rules like preventing them from seeing certain people. Instead, encourage them to have an open and honest relationship with you where they can come to you with a problem, no matter what it is.
Parenting teens is tricky. Often, parents find it hard to balance being a responsible parent and being friendly and excellent with their children as they age. But, as much as teens love ‘cool parents’, they also need boundaries and will come to respect these boundaries and realize they were for their own good further down the line. It is never great when it comes to drinking and driving, and as parents, we need to make this abundantly clear.