Impaired Teen Driving on the Rise Survey Says

Impaired Teen Driving on the Rise Survey Says
  • Opening Intro -

    Some 12 percent of teen drivers admit that they have driven under the influence of drugs or alcohol on New Year's Eve, despite understanding that such behavior is dangerous and much more prevalent on that day.

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A survey conducted jointly by the Liberty Mutual Insurance company and Students Against Destructive Decisions spoke with more than 1,700 teens, finding that New Year’s Eve is when teens are most likely to engage in impaired driving, putting themselves, their occupants and other motorists at risk.

Teenage Deaths

“There are approximately 3,000 teenage driving-related deaths a year, a third of which involve alcohol,” says Dave Melton , a driving safety expert with Liberty Mutual Insurance and managing director of global safety. “Parents have to play an active role in preventing underage drinking. Talk to your kids before New Year’s celebrating begins and make sure they understand the importance of making smart, and possibly life-saving, decisions.”

Behind the teen behavior are parents that seem to be more accepting of alcohol use by their teenage offspring compared to previous surveys conducted in 2011 and 2010. In many communities, social hosts or parents are legally liable if alcohol is served at parities and an accident takes place. Parents can be sued even if a party takes place without their knowledge.

Parental Involvement

Parents can play a significant role in managing teen behavior, but it is the relaxed attitude of some that is behind the rise in teen impaired driving. Teens say that 47 percent of their parents allow them to go to a party where alcohol is served and 15 percent allow them to host such parties. Some 37 percent say that their parents drink alcohol with them while 29 percent are allowed to drink alcohol without their parents being present.

SADD senior advisor for policy, research and education Stephen Wallace noted, “Many adults have a ‘been there, done that’ mentality when it comes to the issue of impaired driving among teens. Yet, research points out that a majority of their children know that this is a timely and important issue.” Wallace went on to appeal to parents to ask their children to avoid riding with friends that are impaired.

Parent/Teen Contract

Although the survey offers a distressing picture of teens, parents and alcoholic behavior, there are some bright points too. The surveyors say that 87 percent of teens ask impaired individuals not to drive and 92 percent said that if impaired and asked by other teens to stop driving, that they would. Clearly, peer influence can stem the tide as well as parental oversight. Indeed, Melton said that parents should have a conversation with their children about drinking and driving, emphasizing the preventative, not the punitive.

SADD and Liberty Mutual have also developed the Parent/Teen Contract to encourage safe driving.

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