Dangers of underage drinking increase this time of year

| Apr 25, 2017 | Underage Drinking

Drunk driving incidents involving teens have dropped by over 50 percent since 1991. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reported that statistic, links it to the fact that fewer teens are getting drivers licenses as well as an overall decrease in alcohol consumption by teens.

According to one woman who was paralyzed by a drunk driver in her early 20s and now works with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, although it may seem to many teens like nearly all of their peers drink, about 70 percent of them don’t.

Despite the decrease in drunk driving, it’s still a significant danger for teens and those who share the car or road with them. Approximately one third of vehicle crashes involving teens (the leading killers of 16 to 19 year olds) still involve alcohol.

As we move into prom and graduation season, more schools and communities (not to mention parents) are talking to teens about the dangers of getting behind the wheel after drinking or in a vehicle with someone who has been. The parties surrounding these iconic events in the lives of high schoolers can include significant amounts of alcohol and drugs.

Even kids who don’t drink can succumb to peer pressure. That’s why parents should talk to their kids about underage drinking, particularly this time of year. Make sure they know the laws involving the legal drinking age. Here in Maryland, in most circumstances, it’s 21.

Discuss your rules on teen alcohol consumption and what disciplinary action they can expect if they break them. However, they should never be afraid to call you for help if they find themselves in a potentially-dangerous situation, like a party with binge drinking or if the person who’s supposed to drive them home has been drinking. They certainly shouldn’t drive if they’ve been drinking simply because they’re afraid to call their parents.

Explain how alcohol affects the brain. Many people who’ve had a drink or more feel like they can drive safely when they can’t because their judgment and inhibition are impaired.

Arm them with responses to peers who try to pressure them to drink or use drugs. This will help give them the strength to fight this pressure.

Besides the dangers to their safety, make sure they understand the potential legal consequences of driving drunk to their education, their driving privileges and employment opportunities.

Source: USA Today, “Temptation high for drunk driving in prom, grad season,” Jessica Bliss, The Tennessean, accessed April 25, 2017

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