No parent ever wants to receive the phone call that their teenager has been taken to a hospital, or worse, following a night out with friends or even an innocent daytime gathering. However, teenagers are at risk for motor vehicle accidents and related injuries, creating a national need to educate and inform these young drivers about safety when on the road. Teenage drinking and driving is a concern for parents, educators and for anyone else on the road, and through understanding the risk factors, there can be preventative measures taken to ensure everyone’s safety.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that at any measure of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in a teenager is riskier than for older drivers. Many consider this due to the brain development that continues to occur until a person reaches his or her early-to-mid-twenties. Teenage drinking and driving can be attributed to a lack of parental involvement, or poor role modeling by the adults, including drinking and driving with a teenager in the vehicle. These risk factors all add up to create situations where a teenager is unable to understand the consequences of drinking and driving, as well as a lack of understanding as to his or her parents’ risk factors on the road.
Peer pressure also adds into the risk factors of teenage drinking and driving. Recently, a study showed that teenagers are comfortable allowing the “least drunk” friend be the designated driver after events where alcohol has been consumed. Additionally, teenagers who ride with friends that are drinking and driving, without incidence, are more likely to try the same behaviors themselves.
Teenage drinking and driving is a prevalent problem that continues to take lives each day. The CDC urges parents, teachers and adults that reducing these risk factors can be as simple as laying down rules and enforcing behavioral expectations, long before a teenager has the opportunity to drive drunk. By keeping an open dialogue with teenagers regarding alcohol and driving and modeling responsible behavior, risk factors for teenage drinking and driving can be reduced significantly.
For more information on risk factors of teenage drinking and driving, and prevention advice, click this Infographic by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD).