Fact: Underage drinking is a problem in the United States. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a recent survey found that an estimated 10 million people under the age of 21 had consumed alcohol within the previous 30 days. SAMHSA also reported that 10 percent of high school students who drank chose to drive afterward, and 28 percent got in a car and rode with an intoxicated driver.
Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the U.S., and alcohol is one of the main reasons why. When combined with inexperience behind the wheel and the distractions of passengers, music and cell phones, alcohol can be the deadly component that sends a teen driver to the emergency room. Or, worse yet, the cemetery.
It’s not a fun subject to address, that’s for sure, but it certainly deserves our attention. And the best place to start the discussion is in the home.
Parents know that open communication with a teenager can be a battle, but that it is one worth fighting. When it comes to the subject of drinking and driving, let your child know that they can be honest with you and then do your best not to judge them regardless of their actions. We won’t tell you how to punish or discipline your child, of course, but if they know that you love them regardless of their decisions, they will be more likely to share openly about their lives.
Once communication is established, help them understand what happens to them physically when they are intoxicated and why those changes make them more dangerous drivers (e.g. slower reaction times, drowsiness, altered depth perception, etc.). Share statistics with them about drunk driving fatalities and injuries and talk to them about what they can do when faced with peer pressure. Develop a plan for what to do when and if they find themselves in compromising situations and help them make a plan for alternative transportation if they or their friends make a poor decision.
At Meyer’s and Waterloo Service, we want to encourage our parents and young drivers to be safe on the roads. If you would like more information on this topic including helpful communication tips, statistics and resources, check out the website of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) at www.sadd.org. As one of the nation’s leading student organizations for positive influence, SADD has been fighting the battle against underage drinking since 1981 and has helpful information for both parents and teens.
Because this is a battle worth fighting, we hope you’ll take the opportunity to talk with your child about drinking, especially when it comes to driving. Who knows? It might be the conversation that keeps them out of the hospital and leads them safely back to your driveway.
For any and all of your automotive questions or needs in the St. Louis area call Meyer’s Automotive (314) 627-0306 or Waterloo Automotive (618) 937-8438! We care about your safety and we are he to answer any and all of your automotive questions!