Being the parent of a teen driver may be a big source of daily stress and worry. While having a teen driver can free up some of the drive time you used to devote to shuttling kids to and from events, it can be difficult to hand over the keys and let your teen out on his or her own.
For one thing, you can’t control the behavior of others on the road. Even when your newly licensed driver is safe, responsible and has an impeccable driving record, they’re not immune from common roadway hazards, like bad weather, distracted drivers and impaired drivers.
While your teen may know the serious consequences and dangers of underage drinking, he or she may still fall victim to the irresponsible choices made by another driver. As a parent of a teen driver, here’s what you should know about teens and drunk driving accidents in Texas.
Stats in Central Texas
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, in 2017, there were a total of 62 drivers in the state who were under the age of 21, were alcohol-impaired and caused a fatal crash. Out of that total, 26 of the drivers were in rural areas, and 36 were in urban areas.
See the sidebar to this article for a list of DUI-related fatalities of individuals under the age of 21, broken down by counties in central Texas. As you take a look at the statistics for each county, you may feel a bit of relief, knowing there were no teens involved in a fatal drunk driving accident in many of the counties (perhaps where you live).
Although the central counties in Texas have fewer casualties than other areas of the state, your teen is always at risk of being in an alcohol-related accident, even if he or she don’t drive under the influence.
How Can You Prevent Your Teen From Becoming a Statistic?
Authorities say accidents involving an impaired driver are some of the most preventable types of accidents, yet they continue to be a significant issue throughout the state. As a parent, you may feel powerless and worried about your teen’s safety. Here are some ways you can help your teen stay safer on the road.
Have an open and honest discussion. It’s never too late to start a discussion with your teen driver about the dangers of underage drinking and driving. Express your concerns and make your expectations clear. It’s also important to let your teen talk about his or her thoughts and concerns about drinking and driving. What are his or her expectations?
Once you have both shared your expectations and other thoughts, you should come up with reasonable consequences for breaking the rules. Not only should you talk to your teen about what you expect, but you should also talk about “real world” consequences, such as losing a license or paying a hefty fine.
Know the odds. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver happen more often over holidays when people gather to celebrate, such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve. In fact, the average number of fatalities involving an alcohol-impaired driver rose 34 percent nationwide in the Christmas-to-New-Year period. And for many teen drivers, “The 100 Deadliest Days” occur during the weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day, summer vacation for most students.
Sign a pledge together. Many families with teen drivers sign a pledge to commit to safer driving habits, like avoiding distractions. While you’re signing the pledge as a family, why not sign a pledge and commit to driving sober?
Share your experiences and the stories of others. Have you ever decided to drive after having one too many alcoholic drinks? Were you ever involved in an alcohol-related accident? Did you lose a friend or family member because of a drunk driver?
Personal stories can make an impact. Even if you don’t have a personal experience to share, you can share the stories of other innocent lives that are lost every year in alcohol-related crashes. One place online that shares personal stories is flemingattorneys.com/lost-lives.
Be a good role model. If you expect your teen to be a safe and responsible driver, you should model the same behavior. As parents, it’s easy to make mistakes, and it’s good to show your child that you are “human,” but don’t make the mistake of drunk driving. Be a good role model who abides by the law and values safety.
Brittany Cotton is a writer who enjoys informing people of everyday health issues and methods for preventing them.