Teens are always at risk behind the wheel when it comes to alcohol and even more so on New Year’s Eve, so take heed. A recent survey of 2,300 11th and 12th graders bears that out. That night, 10% admitted to driving under the influence, compared with 8% on Independence Day, and 6% on prom night.
Bottom line: It makes no difference the occasion, teens always endanger themselves and others whenever they drink and then get behind the wheel. The statistics are sobering not only for them but for the rest of us, too:
- One in three people will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives.
- The average drunken driver has driven under the influence 87 times before their first arrest.
- Somebody is injured every minute in an alcohol-related car crash.
- Teen drinking kills about 6,000 people every year.
- Car crashes are the leading cause of teen deaths, 33% of them alcohol-related.
- Every day in America, 27 people die in a drinking-related crash.
And says the CDC, “At all levels of blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the risk of involvement in a motor vehicle crash is greater for teens than for older drivers.” Moreover, in 2010, 22% of drivers aged 15 to 20 involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes were drinking. And, as if that’s not enough, 24% of teens reported that, within the previous month, they had ridden with a driver who had been drinking alcohol and 8% reported having driven after drinking that same month.
No wonder then that President Obama named December National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. As he proclaimed, “. . .To reduce the prevalence of impaired driving, my administration is working to raise public awareness, improve impaired driving screening procedures, and ensure law enforcement officers get the training they need. We are also striving to stop substance abuse before it starts by supporting local prevention programs and providing youth with the facts about alcohol and drug use . . .”
Truth be told, though, it all starts at home. It’s said that some 11,318 teens get their first taste of alcohol every day—boys at eleven and girls at thirteen. And those who drink in front of their parents beware, as they tend to drink more and have more alcohol-related problems later in life. In other words, teach your children well, model the behaviors you want to instill, raise these issues with them, and draw up an agreement that they will call you should they ever need a ride home–no negative repercussions.