The legal drinking age in the United States is 21. But that does not mean that your teenager will not find alcohol before that age. In fact, most teens have had a drink or two by age 17. This means that your teen can drive after having a few drinks or can get into a car with someone who has been driving.
It’s a scary thought, but it doesn’t have to cross your mind if you make sure your teens are informed about the risks of drunk driving. Here are some ways to prevent your teen from driving after consuming any amount of alcohol.
Simple things to say to your teen
1. Be there for your child. This may sound simple and you may think that your children will come to you with anything, but most teens will not answer the phone to call Mom or Dad when they need a ride home. Why?
Many teens will find it embarrassing to call their parents after they’ve been drinking (and kids don’t want to get in trouble!). Talk to your teenager, tell him you are there to help him. Explain that it is okay to call Mom or Dad to take you home, no matter what time it is.
2. Explain to your child that you know children drink. Also be sure to explain that there is no reason to drive drunk or get into a car with someone who has been drinking. If your kids know that you don’t condone alcohol, they may not drink and drive.
3. Provide an alternative means of transportation. Eliminate the need to drive (or the temptation) by giving your child extra money for a taxi or an Uber if they end up in a difficult situation.
4. Don’t drink and drive. Kids learn by watching their parents, so if you never drink and drive, your kids won’t either, even if it’s just a glass of wine or a cocktail at dinner.
5. Educate. Tell your kids what can happen when they drive after drinking. Show them pictures, explain the consequences, let them read news clips. The more your child knows about the dangers of drunk driving, the less apt they will be to drink and drive.
6. Make sure alcohol is not available inside your home. Lock up all the alcohol in your home and keep your children from seeing you drinking at home. If kids can see or have access to alcohol, drinking can become casual and normal, and they won’t think twice about driving after having a few drinks.
It’s your job
As a parent, it is your job to make sure your children are always safe. This includes educating your kids and making sure they don’t drive after drinking for any reason!