Drinking and Driving

About 2,800 teens in the United States ages 13–19 were killed and about 227,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2020. That means that every day, about eight teens died due to motor vehicle crashes, and hundreds more were injured. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Did You Know?

  • Alcohol is the most commonly used substance among young people in the U.S.
  • Among people aged 12 or older in 2022, 10.5 percent (29.5 million people) had a past year alcohol use disorder.
  • People ages 12 to 20 drink 3.4% of all alcohol consumed in the United States.
  • More than 90% of all beverages containing alcohol consumed by youth are consumed through binge drinking.
  • In 2022, approximately 646,000 youth ages 12 to 20 reported binge drinking on 5 or more days over the past month.
  • Alcohol abuse occurs among all geographic, ethnic and racial groups.

Peer Pressure

Peer pressure and environmental factors impact a teenager’s decision to use alcohol. Therefore, parents play an important role in influencing their children.

Why Teenagers Are Different

Due to the lack of driving experience, teens are less proficient at detecting and reacting to driving hazards, controlling the car and adjusting the rate of speed in variable conditions. Adolescent driving habits also are influenced by peer pressure, emotions and other stress factors.

The fatal crash rate at night among teen drivers (ages 16–19 years) is about 3 times as high as that of adult drivers (ages 30–59 years) per mile driven. Also, the low rate of safety belt use among teenagers increases the risk and severity of injuries in a crash. In fact, the majority of teenagers involved in fatal crashes are unbuckled. In 2021, 51% of teen drivers who died were unbuckled.

Youth Who Drink Alcohol Are More Likely to Experience:

  • School problems
  • Social problems
  • Legal problems
  • Multiple kinds of health problems
  • Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity.
  • Physical and sexual violence.
  • Increased risk of suicide and homicide
  • Alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes and other unintentional injuries, such as burns, falls, or drowning.
  • Misuse of other substances.

Safety Tips

Helping teens understand why they are not equipped to handle the responsibility of drinking alcohol and why it is most important to never drink and drive is an important and necessary task. Use the following guidelines to educate your children on the merits of obeying the law and being safe rather than sorry.

Set the Example

  • Drink alcohol responsibly.
  • Don’t drink and drive.
  • Don’t speed.
  • Require all occupants to wear seat belts.
  • Ensure mechanical safety of any car used by a teen.
  • Impose penalties for irresponsible driving.
  • Limit the number and age of passengers and restrict nighttime driving for new drivers.
  • Delay the onset of unsupervised driving until the parent is confident of the drivers’ ability.

Teach Your Children

  • Educate teens about all related laws. Make it clear that alcohol is illegal to buy or possess if you are under 21.
  • Begin to educate children about alcohol as young as 9 to 11 years of age.
  • Teach children about true friendship so they will be able to stand up to peer pressure.

Stay Involved

  • Staying involved with your children as they become adults is important for their own self-worth as well as your peace of mind.
  • Encourage them to talk to you about anything.
  • Encourage the choice of friends who don’t drink.
  • Insist that they never get into a car with a drinking driver or friend. Tell them to call you or another trustworthy adult or to take a taxi that you will pay for.
  • Encourage them to avoid parties where alcohol is served.

Make the Rules

It is important that parents talk with young people and prohibit drinking and driving and being in a car with a drinking or drunk driver. It is important for parents to engage in conversation about each of these issues and the harsh consequences of them being violated. Also, investigate the consequences of being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) while underage.