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Driving under the influence carries high price 

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It’s an exciting time for high school students with prom season rolling in and many seniors about to graduate.  However, it’s a dangerous time to succumb to peer pressure. When hundreds of teens are together at an event such as prom, one’s decisions don’t seem too consequential. Yet the choices one makes, particularly regarding alcohol, always carry the same price: they can mean the difference between life or death.

Adolescents who start drinking young are seven times more likely to be involved in an alcohol-related car crash. Furthermore, car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens. No one who drinks and drives or gets in a car with a drunk driver is immune to these risks.  When you say yes to this kind of peer pressure, you agree to put your life on the line.  Why choose temporary fun at the cost of permanent damage?

It’s important for teens to realize that everyone involved in a drunk driving incident is responsible for his actions.  Even if you aren’t the one who purchases the alcohol, you are exponentially more likely to die in a crash if you get behind the wheel while drunk. Even if you’re only a passenger, you could still be one of the 28 victims who die every day in a drunk driving accident.

With all this pressure coming at students, especially this time of year, parents can do a lot to protect their teens. Although one out of every six teens binge drinks, only one out of every 100 parents believes that his or her teen is binge drinking.  Parents can encourage a safe driving environment by modeling good driving behavior, providing a safe way for teens to get home if a driver has been drinking, and agreeing on some rules regarding driving.  Perhaps most important for parents is the awareness that most adolescents who drink do so to get drunk, and that young drunk drivers are much more likely to be involved in an accident than adult drivers are.

Everyone can play a part in lowering the rate of drunk driving among youth in the U.S.  Parents can set a good example and stay informed about their teens’ activity. Students can understand their responsibility and refuse to be involved in a drinking and driving situation. A small compromise can carry an enormous price.  Say no to alcohol and say no to the consequences of driving while intoxicated. 

For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/VitalSigns/teendrinkinganddriving or www.madd.org/underage-drinking/underage-drinking-statistics.html.