Posted on: May. 16, 2017 in Driving, Teens

This time of year, perhaps more than any other, it is crucial for parents to talk to their teens about drinking and driving, as well as getting the car with anyone who has been drinking. It’s a season of graduations and proms, and as new drivers, teens are more likely of having an accident than an adult. There will be more young people driving and the stakes are high.


According to the CDC, “In fact, per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 or older to be in a fatal car crash.” The first few months of licensure are particularly dangerous as crash risk is higher for 16-17 year olds than it is for those age 18-19.

Younger drivers are less likely to recognize a dangerous situation and more likely to take risks, a very dangerous combination. They are also more likely to speed and tailgate, and they are less likely to wear seat belts. They are also more likely to become distracted, whether that’s by a phone, friends, or even music.

Adding alcohol to the equation only makes things worse. The CDC notes that the number of teens who say they drink and drive is down 54% since 1991. However, considering that it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drink at all, the number is still way too high. According to a survey, 10% of high school students aged 16 or older said they had driven a vehicle in the past 30 days after consuming alcohol.

In every state, there are zero tolerance laws surrounding alcohol and driving for drivers under age 21. It is illegal for adults to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher, however, for those under 21, any amount of alcohol found in the blood is illegal. These laws appear to be successful in reducing the number of teens who drink and drive.

The CDC goes on to report that 85% of teens who say they’ve consumed alcohol in the past month admit that they binge drank, meaning they have 5 or more drinks within a few hours. This is particularly dangerous because teens may not understand how the alcohol will affect them and impair their decision-making abilities.

As a parent to a young driver, it’s no doubt these statistics are scary. Parents who are involved with their teens and monitor their driving habits and other factors can help reduce the risk of teen drinking and driving. Creating a parent-teen driving agreement, particularly one with a focus about drinking, can help save a teen’s life.

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