1:00 AM on a Saturday night. A policeman shows up at the door.
“Do you have a son named Cameron?”
It is every parent’s worst nightmare. Which is why you must warn them about drinking and driving. Loud. Clear. And often. They may hear about the dangers elsewhere, but you want to make sure that they also hear about them from you. A big part of your warning – that only you can deliver - goes beyond the words that you say. It is your very real fear – for their lives. And you are right to be afraid. Drunk driving is the main cause of death for teenagers. Among all of your warnings to your child, drinking and driving needs to be in a category by itself. This you must never do.
Tell them the risks:
The big one is killing or seriously injuring themselves or another person
They could get into serious legal trouble: arrested or even going to jail.
Tell them they could have a criminal record that will follow them for years to come.
Above all, tell them you won’t tolerate drinking and driving.
- Tell them about zero tolerance laws. It is illegal in every state for someone under 21 to drink any alcohol and then drive.
- Tell them to have a plan or agree on a plan if your teen isn’t comfortable with their ride home. Have them come up with solutions for if they're in this situation.
- Have a deal with them that if they are somewhere and their only option to is to be in a car with a driver who has been drinking – including themselves – call you and there will be no punitive consequences
- Teach them about ways to be a safe driver and avoid distractions. Research indicates the leading risk factors for teen and novice drivers include lack of driving experience in various situations and road conditions, not wearing seat belts, low risk perception, poor hazard detection, distracted driving including talking on phones, texting, and other passengers, and alcohol and drugs.
Give them the Facts:
- National Underage Drunk Driving Fatalities (Under 21) statistics
- State-by-State Underage Drunk Driving Facts
- Young Drivers Under 21
- Understanding Teen Drinking Cultures
- Teen Driver Safety
- Parents, You’re Not Done Yet Brochure (PDF)
- Ask, Listen, Learn Parent’s Section
Other Parent’s Corners: