Let’s start with the good news. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teenage drinking and driving has decreased by 54% since 1991. The bad news is that car accidents are the number one cause of teenage death and one in ten teenage drivers who are in high school drink and drive putting themselves 17 times more at risk of dying in an automobile accident.
According to the CDC, in 2010 one in five teenage drivers who were involved in fatal car accidents had alcohol in their systems. 81% of these drivers had BAC limits higher than .08% even though drinking any amount of alcohol and driving is strictly prohibited in the U.S.
Washington state is very aware of the dangers of teenage drinking and driving. The following laws were put in place and that over the past 20 years and have really helped in bringing the incident of teenage drinking and driving down:
- Minimum legal drinking age — it is illegal to purchase or sell alcohol to persons under the age of 21. The state enforces this law by monitoring retailers and hitting them with a big fine or closure if they flout the law.
- Zero tolerance — it is illegal for teenage drivers to drive after they have consumed any amount of alcohol.
- Graduated Driver’s License — Washington state has a graduated driver’s license which requires teens to pass a driver training course, complete 50 hours of driving practice, and places restrictions on the number of passengers in the car and nighttime driving.
Parents are Key
Parents can reduce the odds of their children being involved in a car accident by modeling good behavior, discussing safe driving with their teen, coaching their child in supervised practice driving in both the daytime and nighttime.
Parents who create contracts with their children and establish rules report that their teenage drivers have a lower rate of traffic violations, risky driving and car accidents. Parents can and should set rules on where the teenage driver is allowed to drive and with whom.
Parents should know the danger zones for teenage driving. Teenagers have twice the risk of being involved in a car accident at nighttime so it is wise to limit nighttime driving until your teen has a lot of experience.
Parents should also set up rules for wearing a seat belt. Seat belts are proven to reduce a teenager’s risk of being seriously injured in a car accident.
Parents should also set rules about text messaging and talking on the phone while driving. Of course parents should model good behavior for the teen.
Another thing that parents can do is making sure their teenage driver has a safe car to drive. Muscle cars or sporty cars might be the cars that teens want but cars with high safety ratings will protect the teen in case of an accident.
Parents should have a zero tolerance for drinking and driving and follow through with severe consequences if their teenage driver ever drinks and drive.
This information is provided by Seattle Car Accident Lawyer blog, a series of The Farber Law Group. We represent people who have been seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents and the family of those who have been killed.
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