Graduation season can be dangerous for teen drivers

Graduation season can be dangerous for teen drivers

Graduation season is a time to celebrate, but it can also tempt new and inexperienced teen drivers to make dangerous decisions. Beginning next week, the class of 2017 will commemorate the important milestone of graduation and move from one phase of life to another. Parties will pop up and teens will be tempted to celebrate with a few drinks.

Why is graduation season so dangerous for teen drivers?

Although teen drunk driving is down in general, car crashes are still the leading cause of death for 16-19-year-olds. About 1/3 of all crashes are alcohol related. Even when a parent trusts her teenager to make smart decisions, controlling the irresponsible decisions of others is impossible. For these reasons, graduation season can be deadly.

According to the CDC, one in ten teenagers in high school drinks and drives. Plus, young drivers between the ages of 16-20 are 17 times more likely to die in a car crash when they have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% than when they have not been drinking.

While your own child may not drink and drive, the roads can be deadly during graduation season due to the irresponsibility of others who may drink and then get behind the wheel of a 2,000-lb. speeding car. So, what’s a concerned parent to do? Are you justified to be anxious about your teen’s safety during graduation season? Absolutely.

The best approach is to be proactive and initiate conversations about the dangers of drinking and driving. “I encourage every single parent to have open dialogue about these issues,” states Kirk Bressette, Co-Founder and CEO of Drive Smart Georgia. “Don’t just have ONE conversation, but have many and continue to talk about the dangers of drinking and driving.”

To learn more, be sure to download a free Drinking and Driving handbook from Mothers Against Drunk Driving. A little research will go a long way to keeping your own teen safe on the road not just during graduation season, but every day of the year.

Tips to help teen drivers during the dangerous graduation season:

  • Emphasize the fact that drinking is illegal for teens and for very good reasons.
  • Talk about how drinking affects the brain. Teens need to know how drinking will affect them and that a person who is drinking is not a good judge of how impaired they are.
  • Explain your own position concerning your teen’s drinking. Discuss your family’s rules about alcohol and agree on the consequences for breaking the rules.
  • Let your teen know that not everyone his or her age is drinking. Teens often overestimate how many of their peers are drinking or have tried alcohol.
  • Talk about what sometimes motivates teens to drink and discuss alternatives for achieving those goals.
  • Help your teen brainstorm ways to resist inappropriate peer pressure.
  • Discuss reasons for NOT drinking and the bad consequences that can result from drinking.
  • If your teen is invited to several different graduation parties, offer to be the chauffeur for your child and his friends.

Though teens continue to be the ultimate decision-makers when it comes their own safety, it doesn’t keep parents from waiting up at night. Reduce those sleepless nights during graduation season with your own safety plan of action.

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