It is hard for parents to admit their teenage children may have an alcohol problem. Today’s young people are under incredible pressure to perform up to society’s standards, especially during adolescence.
Peer pressure forces teens to make difficult choices on a daily basis, but providing them with concrete educational information about teenage drunk driving can help them reach adulthood, safely, alive and without a criminal record.
Statistics on teenage drunk driving are frightening. Many resources compile stacks of data annually to help us understand how serious this problem has become. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of youth deaths, aged 15 to 20 years.
In the United States, 12.8% of all fatal traffic crashes were alcohol-related, and 40% of that number involved teens driving while drinking alcohol.
Young, inexperienced drivers should not be drinking in the first place, but they do it all too often and many of them drink either before or while driving. Statistics show one out of every ten teens between the ages of 12 and 13 drink alcohol at least once a month.
These same young adults get a driver’s license when they turn age 16, and if they are still drinking, it may well be more than once a month. Couple their impaired vision, inattention to their surroundings, a loud radio, with alcohol and a fast car and the result is a recipe for disaster.
Legislators and law enforcement have stepped-up their efforts to reduce teenage drunk driving in several ways. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan increased the legal drinking age to 21 and enacted more severe penalty legislation against bars and other establishments that get caught providing potential underage purchasers with alcohol.
Sobriety checkpoints, legislation, curfews, alcohol awareness programs like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and transportation education films are helping to inform the public of this dangerous problem.
But that is still not enough to eradicate teenage drunk driving. A positive role model and constant vigilance are the two most powerful tools a parent can use to help keep their teen from becoming another heartbreaking news story.