What is the risk of teen drunk driving?

For teenagers, summer can be a time of relaxation and freedom. As they spend more time with their peers and enjoy the newfound independence of having a driver’s license, parents must make sure their children avoid a newfound risk as well: driving under the influence.

Here are a few things parents must know about this particular risk.

How many teens drive impaired?

There are no certain numbers to answer this question. While many sources conduct surveys to obtain statistics, many teenagers are likely too afraid to admit to illegal or dangerous behavior.

Even so, the statistics available are alarming. There are two issues in particular that parents should be aware of regarding impaired driving:

  • Alcohol use: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in 2012 that teens in high school drank and drove nearly 2.4 million times per month. It is common knowledge that drinking and driving is dangerous, but teens might still be prone to peer pressure and uninformed decisions, as their brains are still in the process of developing.
  • Marijuana use: In the not-so-distant past, parents were more concerned about their teens using tobacco. However, marijuana use quickly overtook tobacco use among teens. In 2018, nearly 3.1 million kids across the U.S. between the ages of 13 and 17 admitted to using marijuana. Recreational use of this substance is against the law in Tennessee, but many people still partake. Unlike tobacco, marijuana can impair individuals and make it dangerous to get behind the wheel.

Both of these substances can impair an individual’s judgment, behavior, and reaction time. With such high rates of teens consuming these substances, the rate of teens driving impaired is likely higher as well.

The summer is an especially dangerous time

With school out of session and time on their hands, teens will be out and about more frequently during the summer months. They might drive around with friends and attend parties or bonfires. There is a chance that both alcohol and marijuana could be present at these events.

To keep your child safe and minimize the risk of impaired driving, you should:

  • Make sure your teen understands the consequences of impaired driving and alcohol use
  • Know who your child is with, where they are, and what they will be doing

The summer months are also often the deadliest time on the road for teens, and impaired driving plays a significant role in that fact. Simply sitting down and talking with your kids about the dangers of drinking can help them stay safe on the road – and avoid criminal charges.

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