Why April is a Good Time to Talk to Teens About Drunk Driving
April 7th, 2017 by Attorney Chip Evans
April is Alcohol Awareness Month, an annual observance that the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence debuted in 1987. NCADD focuses on raising awareness about alcoholism as a treatable disease and what can happen when the disease is left untreated.
The NCADD says alcoholism and drug use is associated with fatal traffic crashes, violence, suicide, accidental overdose, educational failure, and unsafe sex. Teens are at heightened risk for these negative outcomes, because they may not understand how drugs and alcohol can affect them, and they are more inclined to engage in risky behaviors.
It’s safe to assume most parents probably don’t look forward to having a frank talk with their children about drugs and alcohol. But it’s an important conversation to have – and one that could help them avoid a lifetime of drug and alcohol dependence. NCADD says teens are 50 percent less likely to use drugs and alcohol when their parents take time to explain the dangers of those substances.
Getting Through the Layer of Invincibility
Teens often seem to think they’re invincible, which is why they engage in risky behaviors. But when they see or hear real-life examples of teens that weren’t invincible, they may begin to understand the possible consequences of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Shattered Dreams, a collaboration between Memorial Hermann Texas Trauma Institute and Texas educators, emergency responders, and funeral homes, shows teens the worst-case scenarios associated with drinking and driving. Volunteers travel to high schools, usually sometime between March and May, and set up elaborate crash scenes, complete with student actors who play injured and deceased crash victims.
In 2012, a teen from San Saba visited Early High School, in Brown County, to talk to students during a Shattered Dreams event. A year earlier, she was a passenger in a car that crashed into a family and killed an 8-year-old boy. Her friend driving the car was 18 and legally intoxicated. He was convicted of intoxication manslaughter, with a sentence of 14 years in prison. Police later arrested a 29-year-old man for supplying alcohol to the teen driver.
Stories of drunk driving fatalities are heartbreaking and may be difficult to talk about. But when parents talk to their teens about these crashes, they may be helping to prevent another tragedy.
At Hays High School, in Buda, students who participated in the 2017 Shattered Dreams mock crash described the incident as “intense” and “very scary.” The organizer of the event said, “I hope it saves one of these lives.”
Drunk Driving May be Habitual
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that by the time police arrest a driver for a first drunk-driving offense, that driver has already driven drunk 80 times. Even after that first arrest, some drivers continue to drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol. A reporter for Today confronted a South Dakota man who had been arrested 19 times for driving under the influence of alcohol, asking why he continued engaging in that dangerous behavior. The man responded, “Because I was drunk all the time.”
This April, take time to talk to your teens about the dangers of drugs and alcohol – to keep them safe on the roads and to help them avoid the ravages of alcoholism.
If you have questions about how this topic might apply to your situation, discuss it with one of the attorneys at the Austin, TX-based Evans Law Firm. As personal injury attorneys with years of experience, we help the people of Texas put their lives back on track. We offer small law firm attention with big law firm results. Call today at 1-855-414-1012 or fill out this online contact form to find out how we can help you.