The summer months bring many young people fun, excitement, and time spent with friends and families. Unfortunately, this time of year also means more traffic related teen deaths. In fact, the time period between Memorial Day and Labor Day, is often referred to as the “100 deadliest days of summer” for teen drivers. In 2016 alone, 2,820 teens ages 13-19 died in motor vehicle crashes.
Underage drinking is dangerous and can lead to devastating short term and long-term consequences. One of those consequences is drunk driving. Research has shown that there are no benefits of drinking at a young age. In fact, kids who start drinking young are seven times more likely to be in an alcohol-related crash.
The good news is that there is hope. Parents have significant influence on their kids’ decisions regarding alcohol. 3 out of 4 teens say that their parents are the leading influence on their decisions about drinking.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) encourages parents to have intentional and ongoing conversations with their kids about the dangers and consequences of underage drinking.
To help guide parents on how to have these conversations with helpful tips and real-life stories related to underage drinking, MADD created the Power of Parents program sponsored by Nationwide.
“The Power of Parents Program delivers practical tips to help parents keep their children away from alcohol,” said MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church, whose son Dustin was killed in the backseat of a car driven by an underage drunk and drugged driver. “It has great tools and resources that every parent should benefit from.”
Below are 6 helpful tips from the Power of Parents’ handbook for parents looking to start talking to their kids about alcohol. Parents can try these out this summer and help change the typically deadliest days to the 100 safest days of summer this year for teen drivers.
1. Don’t lecture
Instead of lecturing teens on why alcohol is bad for them, ask them questions to understand their perception of the drug. Ask questions like “How do you think drinking helps or hurts your body?” or “What physical activities do you want to do in the future that drinking could hurt?
2. Remain calm
Remember to keep your cool and not get angry if you hear answers you don’t like.
3. Establish a common ground
Make agreements with your teens and impose consequences if they violate an agreement.
4. Provide support
Educate your teen about the fact that not everyone their age drinks. Teens tend to overestimate how many of their peers drink or have tried alcohol.
5. Look for signs
Peer pressure is often hard to resist especially in a group. Monitor your teens’ activities to steer him or her clear of trouble.
6. Be involved
Coach your teen about roadway hazards and safe driving principles. Ride in the car together to note their driving skills.