When your teen first gets his or her license, it’s an exciting time full of new possibilities. However, as much as we all want our teens to enjoy their newfound freedoms, it’s also vital to have a discussion about substance abuse and safe driving before handing over the car keys. In fact, research shows that when parents or other adults talk to teens about substance use and abuse, those teens are 50 percent less likely to use drugs, let alone get behind the wheel after using drugs.

When you factor in research that shows 18-25 year olds being the largest group to drive under the influence of illicit drugs, it makes having the conversation with your teen that much more important.  Preventing drugged driving crashes in younger adults starts with arming your teen with the knowledge he or she needs to avoid these types of tragedies, now and in the future.

Teen Drugged Driving Facts

Parents should know that motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death for teens in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While the main cause is simply driver inexperience, the reality is that teens tend to feel invincible, allowing them to think that driving under the influence is no big deal.

In fact, research about drugged driving from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reveals that more than a third of teens believe they are actually better drivers when under the influence of marijuana. Of those drivers admitted to a level-1 trauma center following a traffic crash, over half of them had drugs other than alcohol in their systems.

Another national survey revealed that drugged driving now poses a danger on the same scale as drunk driving, with young drivers being particularly at risk. The website StopDruggedDriving.org revealed data that proved nearly 28% of high school seniors said that they had ridden with another driver who had been using marijuana or another illicit drug, or had drunk five or more alcoholic beverages. Plus, about one in eight teens said they had driven after using marijuana.

Clearly, it’s vital that parents get involved in educating their teens about impaired driving and how to stay safe on the road.

Talking to Your Teen about Impaired Driving

Starting the conversation with your teen about impaired driving of any sort can be difficult. The CDC recommends having regular talks about driver safety, as well as leading by example to ensure your teen continues to make smart decisions behind the wheel. Simply being a good role model by never using drugs or alcohol before driving can influence your teen’s habits.

The CDC also recommends sharing statistics about drugged driving whenever possible to keep your teen educated and informed. When out driving with your teen, point out the new highway signs the Ohio Department of Transportation has recently installed to create awareness about the drugged driving epidemic.

You can also consider creating a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement to help establish and enforce the rules you’ve created to keep your teen safe. This way, your teen will be well aware of the short and long term consequences if any of these rules are broken. Remember, positive parenting involves empowering your teen, taking an active role in teaching them responsibility and setting clear expectations for their behavior.

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.