Every year, nearly 2,500 teens in the United States aged 13 to 19 are killed and about 285,000 are treated in emergency rooms for injuries from motor vehicle crashes.
Even though a mere 10% of licensed drivers are under 21, teen drivers who have consumed alcohol are responsible for roughly 17% of all fatal alcohol-related crashes. According to reports, in 2019, teenage crash deaths occurred most often in June.
Young drivers are less likely than adults to drive after drinking alcohol, but their crash risk is substantially higher when they do. Lack of driving experience can lead teens to underestimate danger, misjudge maneuvers, and it makes them more susceptible to distractions from passengers or cell phones.
Being proactive can reduce the risk of underage drinking and driving. Please review the tips below to help keep your family safe.
Establish Rules & Consequences
The teens in your life (probably) already know that underage drinking is illegal, but they may not know what the consequences look like at home or if they get caught by police.
Outline the at-home consequences and discuss penalties that could arise if police are involved (e.g., license suspension, fines, community service, etc.).
Click here for a state-by-state list of underage drinking laws and penalties.
Put It in Writing
Putting words on paper can be a powerful tool for parents. Write a contract that spells out rules and consequences and have your teen sign it to help cement their commitment to staying sober behind the wheel.
Short on time? Print this Parent-Teen Driving Agreement for free.
Talk About Peer Pressure
Talk to your teens about situations they might encounter that involve alcohol. Discuss what they would do if they were offered alcohol at a party, and prepare them for how to safely turn down a ride from a friend who has been drinking.
Remind them that they can ALWAYS call you for a ride if they end up in ANY situation that involves drugs or alcohol. Some families have developed code words or phrases so teens can call or text for help and save face in front of their friends.
***Just like learning to drive, summer break and graduation events are a rite of passage for many teens. Help them navigate these exciting milestones with compassion, and educate the teens in your life about the dangers of underage drinking and driving.