Tag: Underage Drinking

Every year North Carolina loses a hundred young people to underage drinking – two kids per week. Many parents and community leaders this figure is intolerable. And now, the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission wants to do something about it.

This month the Commission began a  dialogue with community leaders to remind them about their campaign to raise awareness of underage drinking. The Commission maintains a site, talkitoutnc.org, which offers parents tips on how to talk to their kids about alcohol.

The site presents some dire facts, such as the information that kids, on average, try alcohol for the first time before they are 14. Worse, North Carolina parents are less likely than their kids to view underage drinking as a problem.

In addition to these facts, talkitoutnc.org offers helpful advice to parents on the subject, including the need to start the conversation early – before age eight – and to talk about the subject often. Neither of those tactics come naturally to many parents, so it’s important to use the site’s info to approach the task systematically.

The Commission has also produced some excellent, disturbing video ads, aimed at parents. They center around a parent’s worst nightmare – the death of a child – and do it effectively.

Peer pressure is a tough nut to crack, but parents’ efforts appear to be the only line of defense against it. Kudos to North Carolina ABC Commission for starting the conversation.

If you’re a teen driver – or the parent of a teen driver – you’r right to worry. Drivers under 21 are three times more likely to be involved in car crashes than experienced drivers. There are number of reasons why this is the case:

  • Teens are inexperienced. Driving is a complex task that requires training, good judgment, and experience. Teen drivers have received the first, but have not acquired the other two. It takes a minimum of two years to make a competent driver, which is why that crash rates are very high in the first few months of driving.
  • They don’t buckle up. Teens feel immortal, which makes them adventurous and fun. But it can also make them reckless, as when they refuse to wear seat belts because they think they’ll never need them.
  • They are likely to be distracted drivers. The pull of social ties is strong on teenagers. They love to be in contact with friends, and smartphones have given them a constant that constant connection. However, once again their feeling of invincibility brings a hazard: they generally feel that they can get away with texting and driving.
  • They are more likely to drive while impaired. One in ten high school drivers drinks and drives. About a quarter of car-related teen deaths involve an underage drinking driver.
  • They are impulsive. We all know how teens tend to make decisions without thinking, especially when around other teens. In a car, this can be lethal.

In order to keep your teen driver safe, you need to stay informed and in control. Here are some measures that will help your teen develop good driving habits:

  • Agree on the rules. Create a contract – a written document – between you and your teen setting out what you both understand your teen’s obligations are.
  • Insist upon seat belts. This must be a non-negotiable requirement in order to have permission to drive. Seat belts save lives.
  • Talk to your teen about the drunk driving. They need to understand how dangerous it is. You might consider installing in ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, which prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.
  • Educate your teen about distracted driving. Use available videos and materials to bring home the idea that distracted driving can kill. Consider an app that prevents texting while the car is moving.
  • Limit your teen’s number of passengers. Every passenger your teen takes on increases the risk of a crash significantly.
  • Spend time driving with your teen. Drive with your teen as both a driver and passenger. You both will learn a lot, and you can pass on valuable safety habits.

On a happy note, most teens survive their teen driving days and go on to be safe adult drivers. Yours can too. But it will only happen if you understand that teens are not yet adults, and while they are performing the very adult act of driving a car, they need support and supervision while they are still in this formative stage.

13 years old and drinking alcohol? It might sound shocking for some of us, but that’s what’s happening every day across the United States. But these minors are too young to purchase alcohol on their own, so where are they getting it?

If a Davidson County couple is any indication, minors are receiving alcohol from their parents. They’ve been charged with 7-counts of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor after they were found providing alcohol to minors as young as 13-years-old at their home.

The couple has broken several laws in North Carolina, and the first was the zero tolerance policy for underage drinking. The zero tolerance policy states that anyone who allows minors to drink or assists them in drinking will be prosecuted in criminal and possibly civil court.

The couple could also be liable under social host laws. The law states that if you are a social host of any kind, including bar owners, restaurant servers, and even those who just host a party, you have a responsibility to those you are serving. That means if someone decides to drink and drive and causes a crash, you could be liable for their actions because you served them alcohol in the first place.

Although social host laws are supposed to apply to adults, they may apply to those who serve minors as well. In the case of the Davidson County couple, it was fortunate that no one was injured or killed after the party due to binge drinking or drinking and driving.

Parents need to think about legal responsibility if they decide to provide alcohol to a minor, but they should also be questioning why they feel it’s OK for a minor to drink in the first place. Studies have shown teens that starting drinking young are more likely to have a problem with alcohol as they grow older, and they’re at an increased risk for death, injury, and sexual assault. Instead of giving them alcohol at a party, responsible parents should be standing at the door with a breathalyzer ensuring no one has drank before driving.

There’s a lesson in this story for all parents – you might want to look cool by providing alcohol to your child or your child’s friends, but it’s a bad idea all around. Think about the legal consequences for yourself and the potential outcome for your child, and then make the right choice and work to help them avoid underage drinking.

Today’s post comes to us from fellow interlock provider, LifeSafer.

When it comes to having a teen in the house, risky behavior seems to go with the territory. Parents rightfully worry about teen behaviors like drinking and driving, smoking or drug use, and they hope they’ve given their teens the right education and guidance to choose the best option should the time come. A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that parents of this generation of teens can relax slightly on some fronts because teens are making better choices when it comes to many behaviors that worry their parents.

The study showed that teens from the United States are healthier and are making smarter choices than they did 20 years ago. 13,000 high school students from across the country were surveyed, and the results were categorized into risky behavior groups. There were several areas where the numbers showed a decrease in risk including:

  • Drinking – 35% of the students surveyed said they drank alcohol in the past month. That number is down from 39% recorded in 2011.
  • Smoking – Only 16% of teens had smoked in the past month, which is down from 27% when the CDC started taking the survey in 1991.
  • Fighting – Only 25% of students indicated they had a fight in the previous year, and that number is down from 33% in 2011.

Although teens decreased certain risky behaviors, other areas saw an increase including:

  • Texting and distracted driving – Distracted driving and texting behind the wheel is a huge concern for any parent and has become a more prevalent issue than drinking and driving with 41% of teen drivers having indicated they text or email when driving.
  • Media Use – Use of smartphones, tablets, laptops, and television are all rising, with 41% of teens stating they spend more than 3 hours using media per day.

Although the trend for teens is toward a healthier, less risky lifestyle, certain risky behaviors like texting while driving or excessive social media use can still cause parents to worry. How do you decrease your teen’s risk for certain behaviors? Mothers Against Drunk Driving says your best bet is to keep an open dialogue going with your teen and always discuss your concerns and outcomes of risky behaviors like drinking and driving, smoking and distracted driving.

Today’s post comes to us from fellow ignition interlock provider, LifeSafer.

It’s scary enough handing over the car keys to your teen. Throw the dangers of drinking and driving into the mix and you have a pretty worried set of parents. We’re certain part of your fears include wondering if your child listened to what you’ve taught them about the dangers of driving while intoxicated.

A study recently published by the Journal of Pediatrics examined teenagers convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) and how much prior exposure he/she had riding with someone who was impaired. The findings showed a strong likelihood that if a teen was exposed to others driving while intoxicated, they were much more likely to drive while intoxicated themselves.

Just like how teens are much more likely to text while driving because they feel confident in their ability to carry on the task without being distracted, teens who experience what it’s like to drive with someone who is intoxicated may feel as though it’s okay to drink and drive themselves because nothing bad happened. That time.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, motor vehicle crashes are the most likely cause of death for young people between the ages of 15 to 25 and alcohol is a factor in 50% of them.

These statistics confirm the importance to have open communication with your teen about the dangers of drinking and driving. Ask your teen if they’ve been in the car with someone who’s driven while intoxicated. If they have, be sure to remind them that just because they didn’t experience a crash that one time doesn’t mean the act is safe.

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