What if I told you that in a 2013 survey of high school students in Ontario, a full 18% reported being in a car with a driver who had been drinking? What if you found out that of the 211 children killed in accidents caused by drunk driving in 2010, 62% were riding with the drunk driver who caused the accident?
According to the most recently available statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 2,100 people are killed annually because someone chooses to get behind the wheel with alcohol in their system, and the problem, is only getting worse. Consider this:
The Drunk Driving Problem Starts Young
A 2014 study on drunk driving from Harvard Medical School uncovered some troubling statistics. Of high school students 16-18 years old, 12 to 14% reported they had driven while impaired within the last month. A staggering 23 to 38% said they had ridden with a driver who was impaired by drugs or alcohol within the last month. The effect of being counted among either statistic is equally damaging, with teen drivers being 11 times more likely to drive impaired as someone who has never ridden with an impaired driver.
Parents Can Lead by Example
Nearly a third, or 30%, of American drivers report having been involved, whether as a driver or a passenger, in an accident caused by drunk driving in their lifetime. As you’ve seen, teens are most likely to be involved in these sorts of accidents than more experienced, more mature drivers. Teens already face a 3.6 times greater chance of being in an accident when they are carrying passengers, and adding alcohol to the mix has far more damaging effects.
Those wondering what we can do to stem the problem need only look to our adult drivers. As a recent survey from Reuters Health shows, teens who reported driving with impaired drivers on two separate surveys are 3400% more likely to drive drunk. They were 12,700% more likely to do so if they reported riding with an impaired driver on three surveys. As the driver teens are most likely to drive with — to school, to appointments, to family events — parents need to lead by example, demonstrating to their children that the only way to drive is sober.