Why Drunk Driving Remains a Steady Problem Amongst Teens
Even though the legal drinking age in the United States is 21, most people consume their first alcoholic beverage well before they are legally able to do so. Teen drinking combined with the freedom that comes with a driver’s license is a lethal combination because it puts young adults in the position to make poor decisions that will forever impact their lives and of those around them. It is important to understand the underlying influences of teenage drunk driving to better educate our children on the dangers of alcohol, peer pressure and driving while still under the influence.
The Effects of Alcohol on the Body
While some states have more stringent laws, most consider an adult to be drunk if he or she has a blood-alcohol content of over eight percent. For children, however, driving with any alcohol in the blood at all is considered illegal in every state in the country. Part of this has to do with the inability of teenagers to determine whether they are capable of driving and a lack of knowledge concerning just how the body responds to alcohol consumption.
As a depressant, alcohol impacts the nervous and circulatory systems. It takes longer for nerves to communicate with the brain, delaying reaction time and impairing motor function. It has also been proven that alcohol can have an impact on inhibitions, making it more likely for people to make irresponsible or reckless decisions.
In addition to slowing reaction time, alcohol can impact balance, eye-hand coordination and the ability to make quick decisions when placed in a dangerous position. Vision is also adversely affected, and since most drunk driving occurs at night, this can greatly increase the risk of a serious accident.
Concerning Statistics to Consider
It has been shown that about ten percent of teen drivers have gotten behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol. While this is an improvement over the past, it is still greatly concerning and contributes to about one teen death per hour. Over weekends, about 45% of car accidents involving teen drivers have some connection to alcohol use and over a third of the accidents that kill people between the ages of 16-21 are drunk driving accidents.
The death toll is staggering. Over 28,000 people are killed in drunk driving accidents every year. A driver under the age of 21 is 17 times more likely to die in this type of accident than those in any other age group.
How to Prevent Teen Drunk Driving Accidents
A combination of education and the enactment of zero tolerance laws have helped reduce the number of drunk driving accidents by almost half over the last two decades, but there is still plenty of work that needs to be done. Parents need to participate in the education of their children and be aware of whether they are being pressured to drink or take drugs.
States have been cracking down on the sale of alcohol to minors through minimum drinking age laws and randomly testing to see whether stores, bars or restaurants will sell alcohol to underage customers. Zero tolerance laws also deter teens from drinking and driving due to the harsh penalties they can face if they are pulled over with any alcohol in their system at all.
It is important to discuss the dangers of drunk driving with your children and to make sure that they understand why it is so dangerous. Since most of these accidents occur on weekends and at night, the expectation that your child will not drive late at night is also imperative to your child’s safety.