Drinking and driving is a problem that has plagued the roads for more than 50 years. Teenagers are noticeably more at risk for drinking and driving, and the consequences are frequently deadly. Approaching the subject can be difficult. The pictures of car wrecks are graphic, making them unpleasant to talk about in schools or at home, and no teenager wants to be the “loser” who won’t join in the drinking at a party. However, drunk driving is not something that can be ignored, if only due to the number of young people who die before their 21st birthday. There are plenty of resources available with facts about alcohol’s effect on the body, strategies for avoiding drunk driving, and ways that parents and teenagers can work together to fight against the tragedy drunk driving can bring.
Facts About Drinking and Driving
- Impaired Driving: Get the Facts: Is drunk driving really as big of a problem as we think it is? Who is most at risk? The CDC has a huge fact sheet with the answers.
- Youth and Impaired Driving Statistics: Drunk driving affects everyone involved, but it is youth who most frequently suffer the ultimate penalty. Learn about the prevalent characteristics of drunk driving among youth and other interesting facts here.
- 11 Facts About Driving Under the Influence: Sixty-two percent of children who die in drunk driving crashes were just riding with the drunk driver. DoSomething.org has several other facts about drunk driving that may surprise you.
- Driving Drunk Can Kill! Written by teens for teens, this article from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation clarifies how easy it can be to become intoxicated. There are also several law-related facts critical for any teenage driver to know before they get behind the wheel.
- The Truth About Alcohol: Drinking and Driving: It’s important to know how alcohol affects the human body. This page from DrugFreeWorld.org has an article that explains precisely that.
- Drunk Driving: Myths and Facts: Driving the morning after drinking is fine, right? Not necessarily. Learn why on this page from the Road Safety Authority.
- Drunk Driving Victimization (PDF): Three out of every 10 Americans will be involved in a crash where alcohol was involved during their lifetime. Find out how to help cope with the backlash of an accident and learn more about drunk driving with this pamphlet from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service.
- The Facts About Drunk Driving: This page from the Rochester Institute of Technology has facts, figures, and stories about drunk driving. For an all-inclusive resource, look no further than this website!
- The High Cost of Drinking and Driving: As if death and injury weren’t enough, drunk driving accidents cost the United States about $51 billion dollars every year. Learn about the consequences of drunk driving – legal and long-term – from West Virginia University.
How to Prevent Drinking and Driving
- Tips to Prevent Drinking and Driving: It’s very easy to hear the term “drunk driver” and automatically exclude the possibility that we could ever become one. Aside from some great tips on how to prevent yourself from becoming a drunk driver, this article from State Farm has some suggestions on how to host safer parties and how to recognize a drunk driver on the road.
- Preventing Impaired Driving (PDF): What constitutes drunk driving? Take a look at the science and statistics behind this topic with an in-depth report from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
- Preventing Drunk Driving: Alcohol in America: The National Academies Press has a free book on how to help prevent alcohol abuse. Chapter 3 is dedicated exclusively to the importance of preventing drunk driving and some tactics that have proven effective.
- Drunk Driving Prevention and Awareness: Remedies for sobering up have existed for years, ranging from coffee to cold showers. Discover the truth to this myth, along with some strategies for preventing drunk driving, on this page from Sonoma University.
- Graduated Driving Laws Reduce Teen Drunk Driving: Could curfews help discourage teenage drunk driving? An article from Washington University examines the possible benefits of stricter driving laws for new drivers.
- General Deterrence of Drunk Driving (PDF): American lawmakers have been struggling to find the right mix of criminal penalties to deter drunk drivers for years. This study from Washington State University takes a look at the policies in place and whether or not they’re effective.
- What Can You Do to Prevent Drinking and Driving? Whether you’re the drinker or the designated driver, there are plenty of strategies you can use to keep yourself safe. Check out this article from the Catholic University of America for some excellent tips.
Resources for Parents and Leaders
- Underage Drinking: Mixed Messages: A study by the Prevention Research Center has shown that a significant factor in drunk driving is the receipt of mixed messages from parents about alcohol. You can find the whole summary of the study on the Prevention Research Center website.
- Drinking and Driving: Talk to Your Teenager Now: Every year, 4,700 people die from teenage alcohol use. If there was ever a reason to talk to your teenager today about the danger, this article is it.
- Parents Matter: Resources: Half of teenagers say that their parents are their main role models. Parents have an incredible amount of power to steer their children clear of drunk driving, and SafeSouthDakota.com has some fantastic resources for parents with teenage or college-age children.
- Alcohol and the Law: Teaching Resources: The classroom can be a great place to begin talking about drunk driving. Law Connection explains alcohol regulation laws and provides some in-classroom questions to help assess students’ understanding of the material.
- Drinking & Driving: Injury Prevention: Why are teenagers more at risk for drunk driving? The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh explains some of the factors that make teenagers more susceptible to drunk driving and some of the risks that their age naturally presents. There are also some suggestions on how parents can set a good initial example for their children and how they can stay involved in their teenager’s growing social life.
- Alcohol Education: There are general topics to cover when talking about alcohol use, but few resources provide in-depth questions that can be used. Fortunately, West Chester University has a comprehensive, specific list of questions that parents can ask their college students.
- What Parents Need to Know About College Drinking (PDF): From preparing before college to checking in throughout the semester, there are plenty of things that parents can do to help support their students. This pamphlet from CollegeDrinkingPrevention.gov provides a look at what the risks are today along with what college drinking is like and points for at-home discussion.
- 8 Points for Parents: Speaking With College Students About Alcohol: College is a time for making friends, exploring new ideas, and, frequently, for partying. There’s nothing wrong with safe partying – but how do you explain that to a college student? The Loyola University of Chicago has some great ways to broach the subject, along with some good common-sense suggestions regarding what topics to address and which ones to steer clear of.
- Community How-To Guides: This guide from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will walk a community through the founding of a drinking prevention program. Topics covered in the guide include evaluation, education, and enforcement.
- Parents’ Corner: Drunk Driving: Talking to your kids about drunk driving is one of the best ways to help prevent it – but where do you start? The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility has ways to begin the conversation.
Resources for Youth and Teens
- Teen Strategies for Drunk Driving Prevention: Great set of strategies and research for preventing teen motor crashes.
- Impaired Driving: How Drugs and Alcohol Affect Teen Drivers: In this article written especially for teens, the Center for Disease Control outlines some of the consequences of drinking and driving. There are also some additional resources for further information about drunk driving.
- Underage Drinking and Driving: For Parents and Teens (PDF): Stanford Hospital has a booklet that addresses the main issues of drunk driving. There is a section for parents, but there is also a section designed for teenagers with possible scenarios in which alcohol will be present and ways to politely decline a drink.
- None for the Road: Drinking and Driving: The film may be from 1957, but the effects of alcohol on the body are still true today. For an entertaining yet serious look at drunk driving, take a look at this film from the Internet Archive.
- Driving Under the Influence: How do the police view drunk driving, and what would be the cost of being arrested? Find out here with the help of the Cornell University Police Department.
- Drinking and Driving Among College Students (PDF): In this report from Harvard University, you can discover national trends of drinking and driving among college students. There is also an analysis of policy effectiveness, pinpointing which techniques work and which ones don’t with regard to discouraging drunk driving.
- How to Stop a Friend From Driving Impaired: Telling a friend that they shouldn’t drive can be difficult. FriendsDriveSober.org has several ways to help prevent a friend from becoming a statistic.
- Go Ask Alice!: How Do I Prevent Drunk Driving After a Party?: When hosting a party, there are plenty of ways that you can help gently discourage drunk driving. Check them out here, courtesy of the Go Ask Alice service at Columbia University.
- Drunk Driving Can Be Stopped: We all know that having a designated driver is a great way to prevent drunk driving. But giving a lift to intoxicated friends can be harder than the suggestion alone. This page from the State University of New York at Potsdam has some practical advice for designated drivers on how to best help their friends, as well as some facts and resources about drunk driving.
By Ted Burgess