Talking To Your Teen About Drunk Driving – Parent’s Guide

As parents, we never stop worrying about our kids’ safety. This goes double for those times when they’re away from home and possibly pushing the boundaries of acceptable behavior. This is why it’s important to talk to your adolescent or teen about drunk driving and the dangers of riding with friends who are intoxicated.

In honor of September being recognized as National Preparedness Month, we’re looking at some drunk driving prevention tips to keep teens in our communities safe. This includes offering tips on how to create a safety plan for your teen in the event he or she is put in a situation involving a drunk or otherwise intoxicated driver. These tips are inspired by advice from experts at Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Mayo Clinic, among other safety organizations.

Below are five steps to helping your teen create a safety plan to prevent drunk driving accidents and injuries:

  1. Acknowledge your teen’s feelings, fears and anxieties – Begin by reassuring your teen that you respect his or her capability to make decisions, but that you would like the opportunity to offer advice as a concerned and loving parent.
  2. Ask your teen what he or she would do in a difficult situation – Ask your teen to brainstorm solutions for potentially dangerous scenarios. For example, you might say: “If Jessica drove you to a house party in Sunrise, but then she drank six beers once you were there, how would you get back to our house in Plantation?” Or “If you were at a concert with Jeff and you found out he smoked pot in the bathroom, what would you do to get home from the venue safely?” This can get the conversation started and demonstrates that you respect your teen’s ability to reason.
  3. Offer viable alternatives to the drunk driver – Research phone numbers of local 24-hour cab companies and program those numbers into your teen’s smart phone. Ensure he or she never leaves the house for a night out with friends without enough cash to pay for a cab ride home. Another option is to research free safe rides offered by local school, church or charity organizations. These services often are available to students around special events like homecoming or prom. Encourage your teen to use these safety services as needed.
  4. Offer always to be the #1 safety net – Tell your teen that you will provide a no-strings-attached ride home if they’ve had anything to drink or their driver has consumed intoxicating substances. This may seem to contradict your strict no-underage-drinking policy, but your child’s immediate safety must trump the house rules.
  5. Remind them of the consequences of drinking and driving – Your teen may feel embarrassed to refuse a ride with someone who has been drinking or taking drugs. Remind them of the dangers of drinking and driving, including the fact that in 2010, 22 percent of drivers ages 15 to 20 who were killed in car accidents were drunk at the time of the crash (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). A moment’s discomfort is not worth a lifetime of injury or death.

If your teen has been injured in a drunk driving accident, contact us at Chalik & Chalik to learn about your family’s rights to recovery. Call (855) 529-0269 or reach out to us via our contact form.