What you need to know about teen drinking and driving

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Dec 10 2013 / By DriveitHOME

What you need to know about teen drinking and driving

Every year, drivers who have been drinking alcohol are in about one-third of all of our country’s deadly car crashes.

That’s why it’s important for us parents to talk to our teens about drinking and driving, especially since December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. Teen drivers already are three times as likely to get into a crash because they are new to the roads. Not only is it illegal for teens to drink alcohol, but it adds to their already high crash risk.

Here are some things to know about teen drinking and driving:

  • Adults drink and drive more than teens do. But teens have a higher chance of crashing if they drink, even if they don’t have very much.
  • More young drivers are drinking now. In 2008, 38 percent of the young drivers who were in deadly crashes were drinking. In 2011, the number rose to 41 percent.
  • 24 percent of teen passengers say they have ridden with a teen driver who had been drinking

Teens likely will share the road with drivers who have been drinking. That’s why it’s good to teach teens how to scan the roads for hazards and respond when they see one. Drivers who have been drinking may do crazy things. The rest of us have to be careful.

Usually when we think about impaired drivers, we think about drivers who use drugs and alcohol. But distracted drivers also are impaired. Did you know that a study from the University of Utah found that drivers talking on cell phones had more trouble reacting fast and hitting the brakes than drivers who were legally drunk? Now, drunk driving is very dangerous. The study just shows how much talking on cell phones can affect drivers.

Do you know why using a cell phone while driving is dangerous?

  • Drivers using cell phones – handheld or hands-free – are four times as likely to get into a crash
  • Just because you have both hands on the wheel doesn’t mean it’s safe to use your cell phone. It doesn’t matter where a driver’s hands are. What matters is what the driver is thinking about. It takes a lot of thinking to drive a car safely, and we can’t think clearly about two things at the same time. Our brains won’t let us. That’s why drivers who are talking on cell phones can’t focus on the road very well.

Maybe you already talked to your teen driver about drinking, using drugs, texting and talking on a cell phone. How did the conversation go? What advice do you have for other parents who are teaching their teens to drive?

Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, National Safety Council, University of Utah, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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