As the summer months approach, so does the celebration season. Prom, graduation, and the Fourth of July are all just around the corner and give teens an “excuse” to drink or do other illegal activities, such as smoke marijuana. What’s more unfortunate about this: many teens don’t view these activities as dangerous and add driving into the mix.
According to the US Census Data, 13 million drivers are teens. A new survey done by SADD (Students Against Destructive Driving) and Liberty Mutual shows that 23% of these drivers admit to driving while under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or illegally used prescription drugs. With this high percentage driving under the influence, this means a potential 3 million impaired teenage drivers will be on our roadways in the upcoming 6 months of the celebration season. Of course, only 1,708 high school juniors and seniors surveyed, which is why that large number is assumed. Of the high-schoolers surveyed, however, nearly 20% of those who drink and drive say it improves their driving, while 34% who drive under the influence of marijuana also agree.
“The fact that an overwhelming number of teens admit to extremely unsafe driving habits and completely dismiss any risk concern yet still consider themselves safe drivers means either teens have a different definition of ‘safe’ or we need to do a better job of educating kids about the dangers of this type of behavior,” stated David Melton, the director of global safety and a driving safety expert with Liberty Mutual Insurance.
This is where schools and parents come in to play. Over 90% of teens say that their school either has a policy or program (such as Every 15 Minutes) to show teens the dangers of driving under the influence or have police officers or security guards making sure teens aren’t participating in illegal activities at school events or on campus. However, “school programs can only go so far,” says Stephen Wallace, a senior advisor for policy, research and education at SADD. “For example, we know that teens are more likely to drink around events such as Fourth of July, which are less supervised than prom or graduation. It is up to parents to talk to their teens about the dangers of driving under the influence.”
If you are a parent reading this article, talk to your teen or child about the dangers of driving under the influence. It is suggested that you and your young adult sign the Parent/Teen Driving contact which can be founded at theLiberty Mutual Insurance website. Additionally, have your teen learn about driving altogether: statistics, driving under the influence, basic car tips etc. at TeenDriverEducation.com! Have your young driver learn all they need in order to become the best, and safest driver, they can be!