Substance AbuseIt is no secret that some teens experiment with drugs, alcohol, and other substances to avoid problems or to fit in. Although this should always be discouraged, it’s particularly hazardous when combined with driving. In 2008 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 25 percent of drivers ages 15 to 20 killed in car crashes were legally intoxicated (with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher).
Although teens are actually less likely than adults to get behind the wheel after drinking, their risk of crashing is far greater, even with low to moderate BAC levels. Adding to the danger: Teen drivers who have been drinking are less likely to use seat belts, increasing their risk of dying in a crash.
The good news is that the great majority of teens are not getting behind the wheel after drinking or using drugs. Ninety percent of teens responding to our National Young Driver Survey (NYDS) said they rarely or never drink alcohol or use other drugs and then drive.
Talk to your teen about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Let her know that if she does choose to experiment, she should call you instead of getting behind the wheel. This also applies to accepting a ride from someone she knows (or suspects) has been drinking or doing drugs. That’s why it’s critical to discuss that a safe ride is always a call or text away. Use the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) Contract for Life as your guide and agree on a code word to keep your child safe.
Remember that teens with involved, supportive parents are 71 percent less likely to drive while intoxicated.