The sad fact is: young people drink and drive. More teens die in car crashes than any other way – about six every day in the United States. Almost a quarter million people aged 16 through 19 are sent to emergency rooms with motor vehicle injuries.
Teens are more likely to drink and drive than most groups, and worse, teens who drink are more likely to get into collisions than older drunk drivers. Parents, then, have an important role to play in the safety of their kids. It’s up to them to do everything they can to discourage their teens from driving while impaired. Here are 6 things you need to do to keep your teen safe.
1. Lay Down the Rules
Some household rules are implied, some are stated and then forgotten or ignored. The rule against driving under the influence must be set in stone. Ask your child to repeat these:
- Never drink or use drugs and drive
- Never ride with someone else who has been drinking or using drugs
- Never allow a friend who is under the influence to get behind the wheel
2. Make Sure They Understand the Law
The legal BAC (blood alcohol concentration) limit for DUI is .08 for adults, but .02 or even less for people under 21. Penalties for underage DUI are stiff: in many states there are mandatory jail terms, as well as stiff fines, and license suspensions that can last years. Other crimes like being a minor in possession of alcohol (it’s illegal for a minor to possess alcohol in all 50 states), using a fake ID, and child endangerment (if the teen has underage friends in the vehicle).
In short, the law is very hard on teens who drink. They should not expect to worm out of the consequences.
3. Provide Them a Way to Get Home Anytime
If your teen has been partying and calls you up because they need a ride home, the best policy is suspend the lecture until the next day. Pick them up or arrange a sober ride without any immediate drama. It’s important that your teen is never afraid to call for a ride, because the stakes are high
4. Understand the Power of Peer Pressure
Yes, they would jump off a bridge if everyone else did it. Peer pressure is one of the principal motive forces in a young person’s life, and you won’t easily overcome it. Your teen might be reluctant to call for a ride because friends are around, so arrange a secret code – a spoken or texted phrase that means, “I need a ride home.” Don’t worry that you’re sending the wrong signal. Your teens do lots of things you don’t approve of, and they know it. But the real signal you’re sending is that you’re putting their safety above everything else.
5. Talk With Your Teen, and Listen to Them
Keep lines of communication open. That’s not always as easy as it sounds, but if you listen to their problems, they are more likely to listen to you when you do talk, and there’s a better chance they’ll see your side of things.
6. Set an Example
You can easily throw all this work out the window if you drink and drive. Your own behaviour is the basis for what your teens do.