An article released this week in the journal Pediatrics re-iterates the need for parents to discuss the risks of drinking and driving. With spring break in full swing for students around the country and proms and graduation following soon thereafter, this study seemed timely.
In the study researchers looked at data from 10th graders over a three year period beginning in 2009. They found that teens who rode with an impaired driver (due to either drugs or alcohol) were significantly more likely to drive while impaired, compared to those who never reported riding with an impaired driver. The study also found that the earlier and more frequently teenagers reported driving with an impaired driver, the more likely they were to drive "under the influence" themselves.
The study only serves to confirm what one would think.....teens have to make choices and refuse to ride with friends (or adults) who have consumed alcohol (or used drugs). It is often hard for a teen to turn down a ride with a friend who they know may have consumed alcohol (even one drink), especially if they do not have their own car or driver's license.
The study also showed an association between driving while impaired and obtaining a driver's license at a young age. Some states are not only implementing a graduated driver's license but are taking the lead and have raised the legal driving age.
The research presented in the study serves as a reminder that parents need to continue the dialogue about alcohol and driving. Parents need to be clear that there is a "no tolerance" rule in the family and let their teen know that if forced with the decision to ride with a friend who is "impaired", to call a parent to come and get them rather than getting into the friend's car. No questions asked....just go get them.
The other serious subject is that parents may be guilty of driving while impaired as well, and a teen should not get in the car with an adult either. That includes coming home from a school event, a sporting event, or a ride after a baby sitting job.
Make sure that you the parent are modeling behavior and do not drink and drive. How do you expect your teen to take your advice if you do not listen to your own advice.
So, sit down with your teen and continue the discussion about decisions and consequences.....they need to think about this all of the time.