There are roughly 13 million driving age teenagers in the United States. While not all of them have drivers’ licenses or drive regularly, there are still a staggering number of teens on the roads. It is well established that this group suffers from elevated rates of car accidents, particularly fatal crashes. One of the reasons is the prevalence of alcohol use among younger drivers. A recent survey from Students Against Destructive Decisions found that 40 percent of teens believe that their ability to drive is unaffected by alcohol, marijuana or other drugs. That could explain why 23 percent of the teens admitted they have driven under the influence of one or more of these substances.
Prom season may increase the number of teens driving under the influence. Such accidents also rise during summer months when teens have more free time and are more likely to be driving without an adult present. This expanded freedom must come with proper guidance from adults. Before allowing a teen to drive, it is worth it to take the time to ensure they recognize the dangers of drugs and alcohol to a driver. Teens may feel invulnerable, leading to poor decisions. They are unlikely to recognize the slowed reflexes and compromised decision-making that come with alcohol or drug use.
Teens may not believe they are in danger, but the statistics prove otherwise. Teen highway fatalities are a serious problem. More needs to be done to protect young drivers and those sharing the road with them.
Source: KKCO NBC 11 News, “1 in 4 teens admits driving under the influence,” by Alicia Gentile, 2 May 2013