Kids tend to grow up fast in this modern world. They are exposed to a whole host of ideas and opportunities that were not available just a generation ago. Unfortunately, not all of those opportunities are good. Along with new information, ideas, and avenues for self-expression, the chance to engage in risky behavior, like drinking, becomes very real.
Why You Should Talk to Your Kids About Drunk Driving
Kids hear a lot of warnings and prescriptions by the time they’re teenagers. Teachers, pastors, and other mentors may be well-meaning, but your words will carry more weight. They know you love them, that it’s not simply “your job” to recite a list of prohibitions to them. In speaking to your child about the dangers of drunk driving, you reinforce positive associations between your hopes for their well-being and doing the right thing.
Explaining the Facts
It can be tempting for kids to shrug off warnings as “helicopter parenting” because they do not always have the practical experience to understand how personal the consequences of alcohol abuse can be. Showing them, the hard facts can personalize the warning for them, allowing them to see that this isn’t something that only happens hypothetically. For instance, teens may think twice about driving under the influence if simply shown a car with a Low Cost Interlock device installed. But what are the relevant statistics about teenage alcohol abuse you need to know?
The Hard Reality
Kids in their teens are eager to drive, but they lack the years of experience in dealing with the variety of circumstances they can encounter on the road. When you combine this lack of experience with the cognitive and motor skills depressing effects of alcohol, you have a recipe for disaster. Car crashes are the number 1 way teens die in the U.S., and driving under the influence increases the chance of a crash exponentially. Teens make up 20% of all car crash fatalities, though they only account for about 6% of licensed drivers.
The Numerous Other Consequences
While death and serious injury are the most immediate risks, there is a whole host of other possible outcomes to alcohol abuse. On average, 1.5 million people get arrested for driving under the influence each year and young people 16 to 24 years of age make up a full 27.1% of them. This can result in long-term suspension of their license, which can hobble career and educational opportunities, as well as burden them with costly fines and ARD classes.
The risks don’t end with the road, either. Alcohol use in young people has been linked with an increased risk of brain damage. The effects of metabolizing alcohol on the liver can lead to lifelong battles with deadly cirrhosis, and an increased risk of various digestive cancers. Likewise, behavioral effects on the brain may leave your teen with an impaired ability to judge risky scenarios and complete their studies.
Just Say No
It is important for you to speak to your kids about the ramifications of alcohol use and driving. Hearing it from you has a deeper impact than hearing it from other soft-authorities in their life. The facts are very clear: drinking and driving destroys lives. The legal, professional, and health risks young people face when they choose to abuse alcohol are numerous and can lead to lifelong consequences. When you speak to your teen frankly about these issues they are more likely to make wise decisions, so they can grow and share their life with you for years to come.