Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal and dangerous. Every parent and teenager knows that. The statistics are easy to find, as are the tragic stories of teenagers who were killed or who caused the deaths of others because they were driving while intoxicated or high.
But what many parents may not know is just how much influence they can have over their teenager's behaviors, including issues of drinking and driving.
A study conducted by Liberty Mutual and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) found that teens whose parents set clear driving expectations and consequences were far less likely to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Of the teens that have never driven under the influence of drugs or alcohol, 78 percent say their parents follow through on consequences when driving rules are broken.
The media often paints a picture of teenagers as outright rebellious people who are going do the exact opposite of what you ask, simply as a way of exerting their independence. But that picture is wholly inaccurate. While teens do want increased independence, and are more likely to take risks, they also historically have respected and obeyed rules set by parents who adhere to consequences for broken rules. Numerous studies and discussions with teenagers have found that teens who have good relationships and open communication with their parents are more influenced by their parents than their peers.
Consider these statistics from SADD's website:
"Teens whose parents establish clear consequences for breaking family driving rules are less likely to drive with three or more passengers in a car (36 percent vs. 42 percent) or eat or drink while driving (31 percent vs. 40 percent) than are their counterparts who do not have any clear consequences set.
Teens say parents who set expectations with clear consequences for them about breaking the law while driving are less likely to have driven under the influence of alcohol (16 percent vs. 29 percent), marijuana (14 percent vs. 18 percent) or other drugs (6 percent vs. 11 percent) than are teens whose parents do not set an consequences."
Studies have also shown that a parent's own behavior while behind the wheel goes a long way in affecting the driving behavior of a teenage child. Not only do children notice their parent's behavior when they're in the car, they take behavioral cues from conversations as well. So a parent's own attitudes about driving (including driving under the influence) will affect the decisions a child makes. If a teen hears his mom off-handedly remark that she "only had one drink" before driving home, he's likely to translate that into "then it's ok if I drive, too, after having one or two drinks."
Other forms of risky driving by parents can also affect a teen's behavior behind the wheel. A parent may not drink and drive, but he or she may speed, drive without a seatbelt, or eat while driving. These types of behaviors communicate to teens that risk-taking, as it relates to driving, is acceptable, which may be all he or she needs to justify driving under the influence.
In light of all this information, parents who are concerned that their teenage children might drink and then get behind the wheel of a car should focus on three things: 1) developing a healthy relationship with their child that includes open, honest communication; 2) setting and following through on driving rules and consequences; and 3) their own attitudes and behaviors about driving. While these steps won't guarantee that teens won't drink and drive, the chances are greatly reduced.
Labels: dui, underage_drinking, drunk driving
Posted By: Aspen Education Group 0 Comments