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How to Talk to Your Kids About Drunk and Drugged Driving

teen drinking and driving

As school finishes for the summer and stay-home restrictions begin to lift, many young people will hit the road. Unfortunately, many young drivers don’t understand the risks of drug and alcohol use when they get behind the wheel, causing tragic, life-changing car accidents and fatal crashes.

As parents, it’s our job to make sure our kids are equipped to make safe, responsible decisions. Educating them on the risks of drunk and drugged driving is an essential rite of passage. However, we know that conversations about drinking alcohol can be difficult.

In this blog, we’ll outline steps for how to talk to your kids about the dangers of drunk and drugged driving.

Car Crashes Are a Leading Cause of Death for Teens

Driving while under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs is dangerous. However, this doesn’t stop teens and young people from getting behind the wheel when they’re impaired. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 9% of youth ages 16–20 admit to driving under the influence. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, six teens die every day from drunk driving crash-related injuries, and hundreds more needed medical treatment.

However, Mississippi’s 2007 Risk Behavior Survey reported that more than 72% of teens had tried alcohol, and many report binge drinking (consuming five drinks or more at a time). That same year, more than 2,100 teens and young adults in Mississippi were arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). The statistics in Alabama are just as grim. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), more than twice the numbers of teens die in Alabama due to drunk driving than the national average.

This issue is too big to ignore. Here are three tips to make talking about it with your children easier.

Talk About Drunk and Drugged Driving Early and Often

Starting the conversation about safe driving early is key to your children’s safe decision-making in the future. Roughly 80% of young people cite their parents as the main reason they decided to drink or not. It’s helpful to explain alcohol, its uses and effects when children are old enough to understand, so when they’re faced with a decision about whether to drive or ride with someone under the influence, they make a safe decision.

However, many teens don’t understand how even small amounts of drugs or alcohol can impact their driving skills. For example, when a 160-pound man has just two drinks, he starts to have problems with multi-tasking, judgment, and visual function. The impact on a smaller, younger person is even more profound, and their limited driving experience can make matters worse.

Additionally, emphasize that Alabama and Mississippi’s “legal limits” for blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) do not apply to teen drivers. To discourage any underage drinking, there are zero-tolerance laws on the books. In both states, your teen will lose their license if they’re caught driving with a 0.02% BAC.

It’s also a good idea to talk about defensive driving and what to do if they suspect another motorist is driving under the influence. For example, calling 911 about a suspected drunk driver is one of the only times a teen driver should grab their cell phone.

Set Clear Rules and Boundaries About Teen Drinking and Driving

When your teens are older, communicate your expectations clearly, and model good behavior. You can even have your teen driver sign a parent-teen driving agreement that outlines the rules they must follow.

Kids learn from watching us, so if you drive home after one-too-many beers, know your kids are taking note. When you lead by example, your children are less likely to drink and drive as well.

Don’t Be Afraid to Enforce Rules

Finally, plan on enforcing your expectations. Your child might not like it, but committing to following through when they make poor decisions is an important part of protecting your children and helping them make good decisions. This means enforcing consequences when necessary.

It can also mean giving kids an out when they’re in an unsafe situation. For example, if your child is at a party without a safe way to get home, you can tell them to call you for a ride home, no matter what time it is or where they are, no questions asked. Knowing this is an option that builds trust and lets kids know that you’re on their side, in addition to caring about their safety.

We’re Committed to Making Alabama and Mississippi Roads Safe for All

At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we have seen firsthand how devastating the effects of drunk driving are on our community. That’s why we’ve committed our careers to educating our neighbors and communities on safe driving habits and fighting for the rights of those injured in crashes caused by people driving under the influence. If a drunk or drugged driver harmed you or someone you love, you shouldn’t have to pay for your own medical bills or healthcare. You shouldn’t have to fight the insurance company for a fair settlement. And you shouldn’t feel like you’re in it alone.

RELATED: Can I Sue a Bar That Over Served a Drunk Driver in Alabama?

Was Your Child Hurt By a Drunk Driver? Call Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys

In an ideal world, no one would get behind the wheel when they’re not safe to drive. Until then, we’re ready to keep fighting for victims and their families after crashes with drunk drivers. To learn more about your options, don’t hesitate to schedule a free consultation with our team. We’ll meet with you to help you understand your options and decide what to do next. Request your free, no-risk case evaluation today by calling our office at 251-888-8888 or complete our online contact form.

We look forward to speaking with you!

References

Korioth, T. (2020, January 24). Steer teens away from using marijuana, driving under the influence. AAP News. Retrieved from https://www.aappublications.org/news/2020/01/24/parentplus012420

Sobering facts: Drunk driving in Alabama. (2014, December). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/pdf/impaired_driving/Drunk_Driving_in_AL.pdf

Teen Drivers: Get the Facts. (2019, October 30). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/teen_drivers/teendrivers_factsheet.html

Underage drinking: What parents should know. Office of the Attorney General. Retrieved from http://www.ago.state.ms.us/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Underage-Drinking-What-Parents-Should-Know.pdf

Uren, B. (2016, July 29). How alcohol impairs your ability to drive. University of Michigan. Retrieved from https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/wellness-prevention/how-alcohol-impairs-your-ability-to-drive

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.