How should you talk to your teen about drinking and driving?


While you should definitely share with your teen the statistics of drunk driving for all age groups and the statistics of teen driving fatalities, be aware that dry statistics may not be able to compete with peer pressure and party excitement. Often, teens listen better to older teens than their own parents, so if you know an older teen who can be a positive influence on your teen, try that. However, don't abdicate your responsibility to talk to your teen because your opinion does matter, and teens whose parents talk to them about drinking and driving are 42 percent less likely to do so. If you have strong consequences set up for drinking and driving, they serve as a deterrent and give your teen the message that this is something you're serious about.

MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) suggests that parents volunteer to organize an enjoyable, alcohol-free party after the prom at the high school and supervise teenage parties to ensure that alcohol or drugs aren't used on the premises. In addition, you can tell your teens that anytime they or their friends need a ride home if they are drinking, you'll come and get them without asking them about it until the next day. You don't want them to drive home drunk because they're afraid you're immediately going to yell at them.

Tell your teens that the number one cause of death in the teen years is car accidents and that 60 percent of teen deaths in car accidents are due to alcohol. Even before they're teens, you can discuss newspaper stories or TV programs that deal with alcohol, accidents and driving. Of course, you'll want to set a responsible example for your teens and never drive if you've been drinking yourself.

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