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Teenagers and drink driving

The most lethal combination on the roads is a teenager driving with alcohol in their system. The least experienced road user, coupled with a drug that impairs reaction time and encourages reckless behavior. It is a terrifying fact that 8 young people a day die in alcohol related accidents and 40% of alcohol related car crashes involve teens. A teenager’s body absorbs alcohol more slowly than an adult and their judgment is impaired by a lot less alcohol than the so-called “safe limit” that would not register as a problem on a breathalyzer test. So, given these statistics, why on earth do teenagers drink and drive? Part of being a teenager is a feeling that all the things adults tell them, happen to other people; the “It will never happen to me” syndrome.

Drinking impairs judgment, a person does not realize that they are as drunk as they are. The euphoric feeling induced by alcohol makes them feel invincible and truly believe that they are capable of driving. If a teenager has gone out with their friends in the car, they are hardly then going to tell their parents that they cannot drive home because they are drunk! They will be worried about getting in before curfew, about their parents not finding out they have been drinking, probably drive too fast and under the influence of alcohol, it is only a matter of time before they have an accident.

How does a parent stop their child from drinking and driving? Well, firstly the spouting of dry statistics, however horrific, rarely works. Yes, teenagers need to know the extent of the problem, but they hardly ever listen to anything that does not involve them personally. If a friend at school has been hurt or killed as a result of drink driving they are more likely to be concerned about it, and no doubt the school will use that opportunity to educate them. However, teenagers themselves, say that they are less likely to drink or take drugs if they have open lines of communication with their parents and a no blame approach if they make a mistake.

It is unrealistic to expect that a quick chat will prevent your teenager from ever drinking, but you can minimize the potential harm that could arise from alcohol. Agree with your child that if they ever find themselves in the position of having to get home and they have been drinking that they will not drive, they will phone you. Agree that you will not go mad with fury at that point; you will collect them, bring them home and stay calm. You can deal with them in the morning, at which point you can get as angry as you need to! It would then be perfectly reasonable to confiscate the car keys, ground your teenager and make them do double chores for a month! However, at some point you need to talk to your teenager about alcohol, and keep talking to them, they need your help to grow safely into adults.

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