By Pendergast Law on December 30, 2010
Thousands of teenagers are killed in drunk-driving accidents every year. The hard truth is that motor vehicle accidents are the number one killer of teenagers, and 28 percent of 15-20-year-old drivers killed in auto crashes in 2005 had been drinking, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Drinking-and-driving accidents may peak during the holidays and school breaks, when teens have a lot of free time while parents are at work or busy with holiday preparations. The question is: How can you, as a parent, prevent what could lead to a personal and family tragedy?
Let’s look at some of the reasons teens drink and drive.
Research shows that most teenagers simply do not understand how dangerous it is to drink and drive. Plus they have a sense of invulnerability and a belief that bad things happen to other people. Other research shows that young people take substantially greater risks when with peers. Add to that the power of peer pressure and a tendency to act impulsively, and it’s not all that hard to imagine how a teen might end up intoxicated and behind the wheel or in a car with someone who is.
Once a teen is among a group who drinks, it can be hard for him to speak up, even if he knows it’s the right thing to do. A teenager might be embarrassed about calling his parents for a ride home because it seems babyish or uncool. And if he’s been drinking, he won’t want his parents to find out; also, his own judgment will be distorted by alcohol.
What parents can do.
The good news is that most teens actually respect what their parents have to say. According to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), numerous studies show that parents are a primary factor in a teens decisions, especially when it comes to alcohol. Some tips to remember:
- Talk to your teen. Discussions about drinking and driving should begin at age ten or eleven, well before your child gets a driver’s license. Be specific about what can happen to him: He could lose his driving privileges, or injure or kill himself or a friend. Let him know that he can always call you to pick him up’anytime, anywhere, no questions asked.
- Reinforce your family’s values. Most organizations like MADD advocate total abstinence until the legal drinking age of twenty-one and believe parents should have zero tolerance for any drinking. They contend that teens who are allowed to drink at home won’t be able to hold back in other situations, not to mention the mixed message about obeying the law. However, some parents feel comfortable letting their teens toast the holidays with a sip of wine or champagne – just be sure your teen understands that even one drink can impair judgment. This means drinking and driving is never acceptable.
- Enforce consequences. Make it clear to your teen that driving is a privilege’not a right’that you will take away if you ever find he’s been drinking and driving or in a car whose driver has been drinking. You both might sign a contract that outlines rules and expectations.
Please warn your teens about the dangers of drinking and driving. And if you or a loved one is seriously injured in an accident during caused by drinking, you may be able to file a personal injury claim and get compensation for your injuries. If you think you have a claim contact our Seattle personal injury attorneys for a free consultation. You obtain the best possible legal services at the time of your injury without having to pay money out of your pocket for legal services. No recovery means no attorney fee.