What if teens are drinking in your child's car?

Discussions about risky behavior, including alcohol and substance abuse, should start before teens drink or drive. Open conversations with your teen about the issues of adolescence, whether about peer pressure, behavior, attitude or anything else that concerns parents, is essential from an early age. Get to know your teens' friends, and encourage them to develop relationships with peers who have the same interests and guidelines. Set rules and limitations. Involve your teens in making the rules as well as deciding on the consequences of breaking them. Make sure your teen knows that you will enforce any penalties.

The leading cause of death for teens is car crashes. Fatal crashes occur when teens drive when they drink, under the influence of drugs, or when they are distracted. Teens often think they know everything, but parents do have a lot of influence on their teen's behavior and decision making. Take action and talk to your teen about risky driving behavior in any situation, even when the rules seem obvious. Not driving with someone who has been drinking is a hard and fast rule, as well as not drinking while driving. However, before you hand your teen the car keys, establish rules that cover any distractions for your teen while driving, including driving with passengers who are drinking. Discuss the situations that your teen may be involved in when driving and how to handle them, such as dealing with passengers that drink. Explain the hazards of driving a car while others are drinking. Passengers can be a distraction for new and inexperienced drivers. Teen drivers are at risk not only when they drink themselves, but also when they see their passengers drinking or using drugs while they drive.