Teenage drinking and driving is every parent’s worst nightmare. Talking about it with your teen is the best way to prevent drunk driving. Arm yourself by learning some real-world tips on how to prevent teenage drinking and driving.
In the United States, one person dies every 45 minutes from drunk-driving crashes, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported. That is a grim statistic, but the number of teens who drink and drive is dropping dramatically. The Centers for Disease Control attributes this positive news to graduated drivers licensing, minimum legal drinking age laws, and zero-tolerance policies. In fact, guns recently surpassed automobile accidents as the leading cause of death among teens.
While the number of teens who drink and drive is falling, it’s still a major problem that keeps parents up at night. The CDC reported that at least 16.7% of high school students had, in the past 30 days, ridden at least once with a driver who had been drinking. Parents remain the best resource to prevent drinking and driving.
Proven Strategies to Prevent Teenage Drunk Driving
Here’s how to start the conversation to help your teen make smart choices.
- Know the Laws. Every state has a zero-tolerance policy in place for teens who drink and drive. Learn how to prevent teenage drunk driving by understanding your state’s laws. The Alcohol Policy Information System has an interactive map to provide parents with the information they need about the penalties for underage drinking. In some states, students can lose their license simply by being caught with alcohol in their possession. Arm yourself with facts to communicate the consequences of drunk driving to your teen. North Carolina driving while impaired laws. North Carolina State Highway Patrol states that it is illegal to drive a vehicle while noticeably impaired or with an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher. There are five levels of misdemeanor Driving While Intoxicated. Level I is the most serious and Level V the least.
- Start the Conversation. It’s never too early to start the conversation about underage drinking. At least 7 million kids as young as 12 drank alcohol in the last 30 days. Make sure your child knows the impact underage drinking can have on their brain development and the perils of drunk driving. Talk it Out NC offers guidance on how to get started.
- Lay Out the Rules. Put pen to paper with your child to come up with house rules about alcohol consumption. It’s natural for teens to push boundaries as they grow more independent. But forgetting to clean their rooms or misplacing a homework assignment pose less serious consequences than drinking and driving.
Set up a no-tolerance policy for drunk driving and make consequences clear for disobeying the rules. If you need a place to start when it comes to teens and driving safety, including drunk driving, the CDC offers a handy parent-teen driving agreement with space to list penalties for breaking the rules. If you suspect your child is already guilty of drinking and driving, the time to establish rules and have frank conversations starts now. Try to have two-sided conversations and take time to listen to their concerns. Prevention techniques can help your child decline a drink in the future.
- Create a Code Word. Even the most trustworthy teens may find themselves in unexpectedly risky situations. Set up a code word your teen can text you if they ever feel unsafe and need a ride home. One of the keys to making this approach successful is to allow them to use the code word without fear of punishment. Remaining calm and providing a safe exit strategy for your teen could be a lifesaver.
- Spend Time Together. Although teens might not need to rely on parents for a ride or help with their homework, spending time together as a family is still important. Teens who regularly eat dinner with their family are less likely to drink alcohol. Spending a small amount of one-on-one time with your teen each day helps keep the lines of communication open.
- Chat with Fellow Parents. Once you’ve laid the ground rules with your teens, it’s time to enlist the help of other parents. Some parents make the mistake of serving alcohol to teens at home to prevent drinking and driving. Not only do these parents cross the line, but they can also face stiff consequences. Make sure the parents in your circle are on the same page by forming an alliance to create a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking.
- Take the Pledge. A final step all parents and teens should take to prevent underage drinking and eliminate drunk driving is to take Talk it Out NC’s Pledge to play it safe when it comes to alcohol consumption. In addition to committing to calling parents if they feel unsafe, the pledge requires teens to promise to talk with their parents about staying alcohol-free
Protect Your Kids with Communication
Kids rely on their parents to be role models when it comes to alcohol consumption. Keep the lines of communication open, and make sure your kids understand your stance on underage drinking to prevent drunk driving. Talk it Out NC is here to help you start the conversation about underage drinking. Take the Pledge to talk it out together today.