Six Tips for Talking to Your Teen about Drunk Driving
Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports nearly 25 percent of teen male drivers involved in fatal auto accidents in 2011 had been drinking prior to the crash. As parents and personal injury attorneys, these numbers remind us of the importance of setting our kids straight and talking to kids about drunk driving.
Talking to teenagers about the risks of driving while intoxicated isn’t as straightforward as saying, “Don’t drink and drive.” The conversations should come early and requires a bit of planning.
Six of the best tips we’ve found on how to broach the topic of drunk driving:
- Don’t think of it as a one-time talk – Your teenager needs to hear the message again and again. A single lecture on the dangers of drunk driving isn’t sufficient – think of it more as an ongoing dialogue.
- Be clear and consistent about the rules – Set boundaries for your children and don’t waver in the face of a challenge. Enforce consequences in the event of a transgression (i.e. taking away driving privileges for two months if your teen gets caught drinking alcohol at a friend’s party).
- Be honest about the risks – Cold, hard statistics may not be enough to deter a teenager from drinking and driving. In the context of a larger conversation, however, that data can help to support your point. Tell your child he or she does not have to become a statistic. Kids have the power to make safe decisions and enter into adulthood in good health and without a criminal record.
- Listen to your teenager’s concerns and questions – Ask your teen to share his or her concerns about drunk driving, alcohol use, and how to avoid dangerous situations. Your child is more likely to be honest with you if he or she knows they have a “safe zone” in which to ask questions and voice opinions. Your word is still the final say, but a teenager is more likely to listen if he or she feels listened to.
- Set a good example – Teenagers emulate the behavior they see at home. You cannot effectively tell a teenager not to drink and drive if you don’t follow that rule.
- Establish a safety plan to prevent drunk driving accidents – Your conversation about safe driving shouldn’t be limited to telling your teen to never drink before getting behind the wheel. You also should talk about what to do if your child is out and his or her driver has consumed alcohol or drugs. Create a “safety plan” that includes the numbers of local taxi services or the promise of a no-strings-attached safe ride home.
Contact us at Chalik & Chalik if your teen has been the victim of a drunk driving accident. Our family-based team can talk to you about your family’s options for financial recovery. Call 888-476-4697.