How To Make Sober, Safe and Responsible Teen Drivers

Drinking and driving is bad. If you just rolled your eyes at the obviousness of that statement then you can only imagine how your mildly rebellious, know-it-all teenager must feel. For the last three years, your child has been forced to attend Red Ribbon rallies and MADD events where anti-drug, anti-alcohol messages were repeated ad nauseum.

To a certain extent, these interventions are working. Less than 20 percent of adolescents report driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. For those with a glass half empty mindset then this means about one out of every five young people have driven under the influence. Knowing that your child has been bombarded with safety messages, there are some research-supported interventions that parents can use:

Keep Repeating The Message

Just because your child has heard "Don’t Drink And Drive" over and over does not mean the message is invalid. The best time to repeat this is during the preparation for the driving test. No states in the union allow drinking and driving but there are different limits and fines for offenders. Take Massachusetts as an example, where the blood alcohol level for someone under 21 is only 0.02 whereas an adult is 0.08. This translated to less than a beer an hour. While you child is taking the Massachusetts permit practice test, stand over his shoulder and turn the drinking and driving statistics into questions.

Watch Some Funny Videos Together

The film "Red Asphalt" made the school circuit in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. It was the "Scared Straight" of drink-driving curricula, showing gruesome auto accidents and bloody fatalities. Flip the script and watch the videos of people under the influence of alcohol. Not only are they hilarious, but they also demonstrate the fact that most people do not know they are impaired. One of the greatest lessons that a young person can learn is that he may feel like he can drive but he cannot.

Don’t Let Facebook Do The Work

Though the message is common, research shows there is no evidence social media is an influencer, reports BioMed Central. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are positive social outlets that help youth cope with day-to-day events but they do not seem to stop a young person from making bad decisions.

Designated Driver

Worldwide, the designated driver program seems to be one of the best safety interventions to prevent drink-driving. Research from Australia, which has a huge drink-driving problem, shows the Skipper program is having a massive safety impact on risky driving behavior.

When teaching your novice driver about drinking, there are two pieces for the child to understand. A designated driver needs to be arranged in advance. If things fall apart and the driver is not capable of fulfilling his duty, then call a taxi or have mom or dad pick the teen up. This leads to the second point which is safety. Your child needs to be free to call you without fear of reprisal if he cannot drive. The next day you can have the hangover conversation but do it with gratitude that he is safe.