I hear it’s Alcohol Awareness Month. How can I impress on my 18 and 21-year-old not to drive after drinking or ride with someone who has been drinking?
That is a noble question for a parent to ask and also a big challenge. After all, we can’t be with our children when they’re out with friends, making it difficult to protect them. I do believe how we raise our children, and the importance of being a good role model for them is very important. Children often mimic their parents, for better or for worse, so you don’t want them to see their parents driving while texting, drinking or talking on a hand-held phone. Setting a strong example is a good place to start.
It’s also important to note that drinking and driving is not just a teen or young person problem. It crosses all age, race, social and economic lines. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that out of drivers with blood alcohol levels of 0.08% or higher involved in fatal crashes in 2014, 30% were between 21 and 24 years old; 29% were ages 25 to 34; and 24% were 35 to 44. This does show the trend that drinking and driving fatalities decreases with age, but the percentages are still significant across age groups.
However, motorcyclists ages 40-49 have the highest percentage of deaths at 40% with the same .08% blood alcohol level. Drivers with a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher involved in fatal crashes were seven times more likely to have a prior conviction for DWI than were drivers with no alcohol in their system.
The numbers are alarming and unfortunately children are directly affected by drivers under the influence. Of the 1,070 traffic deaths among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2014, 19% involved an alcohol-impaired driver. The bottom line — in 2014, 9,967 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the U.S. There were 1370 deaths from alcohol-related accidents in Massachusetts alone and our state is among one of the lowest for alcohol-related deaths.
Watch the news, teens are killed; a school principal was caught drinking and driving. No one is exempt from being a victim.
How can we prevent accidents from drinking and driving?
• Parents—keep the conversation going with your young drivers and continue the conversation with your young adult children. It is important for them to understand that yes, it could happen to them. Let them know that they can call home at any hour before they get into a vehicle with someone who has been drinking, or if they have been drinking.
• Before drinking, designate a non-drinking driver when with a group.
• Don’t let your friends drive impaired.
• If you’re out drinking, get a ride home or get an Uber.
• If you’re hosting a party where alcohol will be served, remind your guests to plan ahead and designate their sober driver; offer alcohol-free beverages, and make sure all guests leave with a sober driver, even if it means taking the keys. Better to have a friend upset with you, than a friend who causes an accident.
All of us at Jaffarian Volvo Toyota want you and your families to be safe on the roads. There is nothing more important than education, speaking up, and preventing fatalities by taking action. A parent’s love and common sense lessons can go a long way.
P.S. Last week I wrote about Distracted Driving Month. Did you see this Fox news piece from North Reading about a man who videotaped a distracted driver who was weaving and then hit a family head-on? Fortunately, no one was killed but this is a powerful message on distracted driving. Watch it here: http://www.myfoxboston.com/newhttp://www.myfoxboston.com/news/crash-caught-on-camera-could-be-classic-example-of-distracted-driving/201395999