It’s no secret that alcohol-related crashes are a leading cause of death for teens, but it could be fear of getting in trouble with their parents that causes them to get behind the wheel. According to a AAA survey, 84% of teens said their friends would drive after drinking rather than calling home for a ride.
Even if your teen doesn’t drive, the risk is real. In the same survey, 22% of teens said they would take a ride from a drunk friend before they called their parents.
So how can you keep your teen from drinking and driving?
- Be clear with your teen about your expectations. Let him know that while you don’t condone drinking, you have a “no questions asked” policy if they need a ride, no matter what the circumstances are.
- Let your teen’s friends lean on you, too. Let your daughter know she can call you to come get her and her friends, no matter what time of night it is. Her friend’s parents will have to hear the truth eventually, but in the morning once everyone is safe.
- Get it in writing. Sober contracts help reinforce the message that it’s never a good choice to drink and drive. Sign one as a family, then have a keychain made out of it. The presence of the contract with the keys will help your teen make the right choice not to drive.
- Work with other parents. Your teen may hesitate to call you if he needs a ride, but he might call Ben’s mom instead. If you and Ben’s mom are in this together, you’ll sleep better at night. Plus, when parents agree to supervise parties at their homes and keep the alcohol out, there are fewer opportunities for teens to drink.
- Have a back-up plan. Make sure your teen has the number of a taxi company in his or her phone or wallet and emergency cash to pay for the ride.
- Keep the lines of communication open. The more freely your teen can speak with you about their troubles, including alcohol, the less likely is it that he or she will get into a troublesome situation.