Teens are curious by nature. Everything seems like an adventure. A teen wants to try everything that they were stopped from doing when they were younger. Soon this includes driving and for many, this also includes trying alcohol. The combination of driving and alcohol can be deadly. And of course, as a teenager, young men and young women think they can make better decisions for themselves. They can take risks, they seem invincible. Until a tragedy occurs. The most severe being a fatality caused by teenage drinking and driving.
For some people, alcohol triggers the overconfidence of being able to handle anything, while for some others; allowing or encouraging a drunk person to drive is sheer fun. Driving safety is something that just goes out of the window when under the influence. Statistics of teen drunk driving suggest that a teenage boy with BAC levels of 0.05 percent is 18 times more vulnerable to crash his vehicle than a teenage boy who hasn't consumed alcohol. In girls, this vulnerability increases to 54 times over her non-drinking counterpart.
Drinking and driving can have tragic consequences, not only for the person who drives drunk, but also for friends, relatives and strangers.
What can you do if you find yourself in a situation involving alcohol and driving? It is important to first educate yourself on the facts of alcohol.
Beer is NOT less intoxicating than other types of alcoholic beverages.
It is illegal for a minor to drink alcohol in the United States. Period.
Cold showers, fresh air and hot coffee do not make you sober. It takes time for the effects of alcohol to be eliminated from your body.
Food in the stomach only delays the absorption of alcohol; it does not keep you sober.
Teenagers are cited as the most important variable related to crash risk.
Teens are more likely to alcohol-induced impairment of their driving skills. Drinking drivers 16 to 20 are twice as likely to be involved in a fatal crash as drinking drivers 21 and older.
Young drivers are inexperienced not only in driving but in drinking and in the combination of the two activities.
Pay attention to the messages you hear regarding driving under the influence. As much as peer pressure can have a negative influence, it can have a positive influence too. It is unsafe to drive while under the influence. It has been reported, if a passenger tells a teen driver not to drink, the drive is more likely to honor the request.
Be aware of your own behavior as well as your friends.
If one of your friends has been drinking and shouldn't drive, don't let them. They could hurt themselves or others and maybe just a little persuasion from you could mean the difference between life and death.
You could also suggest that you or a sober friend drive your alcohol-impaired friend home. His/her car can always be picked up at another time. Suggest that your impaired friend stay overnight in your home. This may sound inconvenient, but you could be saving your friend's, or someone else's life. Have your friend taken home in a taxi. Pay for the ride yourself. It's hard to object to a free ride. Whatever you do, don't give in. Friends don't let friends drink and then drive. In the morning, you'll have a safer and maybe an even closer friend.
Know the consequences of drinking and driving.
Ask yourself if you are prepared to deal with those consequences.
Many schools offer educational programs geared towards prevention. Check out your school to find out what is available. Many of these programs offer student members to sign a contract in which they promise not to drink and driver. Students may wear buttons or use stickers to encourage other teens to do the same. Get your friends to join. A very popular organization found in many schools is Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD).
Although it may seem like “everyone is doing it” and “it is only one drink”, that one drink can be deadly for some people. Ask yourself why you would be willing to take that risk. Talk to other teens, it is very likely they are faced with many of the same day-to-day challenges and peer pressure you are faced with too.
Face it, peer pressure is fierce and it may not be enough to just say no.
Be prepared for what you are going to do or say if you are in a situation involving alcohol and driving. Think of a comeback the next time someone asks you to take a drink or offers to give you a ride if they have been drinking. You can say no in a way that will help you to “save face” with your friends and reduce some of the pressure you anticipate getting. It may be something as simple as, “I’m not willing to lose my license over this” or “I told my sister to come get me and she was supposed to be here already. I am going to call her to see what is going on”.
Don’t be afraid to talk to your parents about this issue.
Some parents have agreements with their sons/daughters which include letting their child know they can call for a ride and still keep their license. Some communities offer Safe Ride programs, which includes having other peers designated as drivers who agree not to drink. Whether teens have been stranded at parties by others who are too drunk to drive, or have been drinking themselves, SafeRides offers to get teens home confidentially and free of charge.