Everyone knows that drinking and driving are a potentially deadly combination. With graduation season upon us, it is time to remind our teens to make a conscious decision to celebrate responsibly. Graduation season is a time to celebrate and have fun with friends. But what’s not so much fun is getting the news that your child, or one of their classmates lost their lives in a tragic accident that was a result of alcohol impairment.
Drunk driving deaths increasing
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reports on data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) that there were 10,497 drunk driving deaths in 2016, the second year that the drunk driving fatality rate increased. Colleen Sheehey-Church, president of MADD said, “For the second year in a row, we are seeing increases in highway deaths. After years of decline — both overall and alcohol-related — the number is moving in the wrong direction.”
An article in USA Today tells the story of Phaedra, woman who survived a drunk driving crash. She has spent the rest of her life paralyzed because of that crash. Now she shares her story with high school students throughout Tennessee through a program with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. She also shares information about the dangers of drunk driving, of distracted driving and the importance of wearing a seat belt. While her words often bring her audiences to tears, Phaedra says, “I want them to feel encouraged and motivated.” She also wants them to change the way they make decisions. The decisions that teens will make about drinking and driving, distracted driving and wearing a seat belt will likely have an impact on the rest of their lives.
Helping parents help their kids
Teen drivers are far more likely to be in a fatal car crash than older driver. The risk is highest for 16 to 17-year-olds, but that doesn’t mean your 18-year-old son or daughter is suddenly out of the risk pool.
Add intoxicating liquors to the intoxication of the “freedom” that high school and college grads feel, and it could spell disaster.
MADD offers these tips to help parents talk to their kids about drinking and driving:
- Remind them that it is illegal to drink and drive for very good reasons.
- Let them know that not as many of their peers drink and drive as they think they do.
- Talk about how using alcohol impairs their brain and that a person who has had too much to drink is incapable of judging their own level of impairment.
(A complete list of tips is available on the MADD website.)
We’d like to add this advice, too: you might feel as though it’ll be safer to let your child and his or her friends – whether they are of age or not – drink at your home, where you can keep an eye on them. If your children are of age, take everyone’s keys: if they drink, they stay. If your child is underage, do not allow drinking at all. Not only is it bad practice, but it’s illegal. As a host, you could be held responsible if someone does manage to driver away, or if anything happens to the kids. It’s simply not worth it.
Graduation is a right of passage, and we know that you want your child to celebrate his or her past and future. We just want to make sure that everyone stays safe. If you or a loved one suffers injuries in a car crash in East Tennessee caused by the negligence of a drunk driver, you want an experienced Maryville car accident attorney on your side. To schedule a free consultation with Shepherd and Associates, call 865-225-9655 or fill out our contact form.