Underage drinking is unlawful, and yet it is a fact that teens will find a way to obtain alcohol. It’s estimated that about 1-in-3 high school students drink regularly and about 1-in-8 binge drink. As risky as unmonitored drinking is, there is another, more serious issue that every parent must consider: the impact of teen DUIs.
Alcohol is a factor in 1-in-4 teen car crashes, and that number increases around the summer season. Teens are especially susceptible to alcohol, and some data suggests that a driver under 20-years-old with a 0.01% BAC is significantly more likely to be in a crash than either an adult driver with the same BAC or a sober teen driver. Simply put, even one drink puts teens at risk, which is frightening because teens are already significantly more likely to be in a crash than the general driving population.
Even worse is that teens who don’t drink can be in danger as well. Teens are generally more willing to get in a car with intoxicated peers. This makes an already dangerous situation much riskier. Remember, each teen passenger in a vehicle multiplies the teen driver's risk of being in a crash.
The risk of teens drinking and getting behind the wheel cannot be overstated. As a parent, talking to your teen about this can feel intimidating.
That said, it is important to discuss expectations for driving (and potentially make a driving contract) with your teen. Emphasize that if they are ever in a situation with alcohol, it is better for them to call you for a ride than to risk getting behind the wheel and being in a potentially fatal crash.
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