Many teens have a tendency to feel invincible, like nothing bad will happen, especially newly licensed ones. When you haven’t been in any type of motor vehicle crash before, it’s easy to think that car crashes only happen to other drivers.  As a parent it’s hard not to worry about the decisions they’ll make once out on the road since some of those decisions could impact not only their life and your family’s, but also the lives of other people.

Teenage Drunk Driving Statistics

The numbers don’t lie: some of the teenage drunk driving statistics out there can be shocking and scary to parents. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 10,497 people died in alcohol-impaired crashes in 2016, up 1.7% from 2015. Drunk driving is defined as driving with a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) at or above 0.08%.

In 2016 alcohol-impaired crash fatalities accounted for 28% of all crash fatalities. Drivers under the age of 21 represent 10 percent of licensed drivers and they are responsible for 17% of those fatal alcohol-related crashes.

For teens, the risk of being involved in a crash is even higher than it is for adults, no matter the level of blood alcohol concentration. Studies have shown that 1 in 10 high school age teens will drink and drive, and these young drivers are more likely to die in a crash when they are impaired; teens are three times more likely to be involved in an accident ending in fatality.

This is why it’s so vital that parents are involved in educating their teens about impaired driving and how to stay safe on the road.

Tips for Starting the Conversation with Your Teen about Impaired Driving

It can be difficult to talk to your teen about drinking and driving. Teens have a sense of invincibility and often feel like they’re in control of any situation. It’s important for parents to listen to their teens and not try to make them feel as though they’re already under attack or that you don’t trust them.

Teens have a tendency to not think too far ahead into the future; they’re more concerned about their plans for tomorrow or the weekend, not necessarily next year and beyond. When talking to your teen about impaired driving, you’ll want to point out both the short term and long term consequences of their actions. Sharing teenage drunk driving statistics can help; however, again, most teens feel like those types of situations could never happen to them.

As a parent, you can make a difference. Research shows that parents are, in fact, a strong influence on whether or not a teen will choose to drive impaired. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), taking a positive stance in your parenting efforts in regards to teens and alcohol can be very effective.

Positive parenting involves empowering your teen, taking an active role in teaching them responsibility and setting clear expectations for their behavior. Consequences regarding impaired teen driving should be set, discussed, and enforced.

December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, so there’s no time like the present to talk to your teen about avoiding driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drive Team offers an impaired driving course as part of our teen driving classes, helping your teen learn how to be a responsible, safe driver throughout the year.

Leave us a comment below or tweet us @DriveTeamInc to let us know how you plan to talk to your teen about avoiding driving while impaired.