Because of the decline in teen drivers in the United States over the last few decades, some analysts believe that the most recent generation of adults will be less car-dependent than those who came before them. Even if driving facilitates social interaction with friends, teenagers’ reasons for needing a driver’s license are more utilitarian than social.
Teenagers and parents alike agree that having a driver’s license gives them more freedom. Nonetheless, both expressed concern about the dangers that driving poses to others and to themselves. On the other hand, driving was seen as an unavoidable part of growing up by both parents and teenagers.
Researchers have proposed and tested theories as to why young people delay getting their driver’s licenses. One of the causes could be the gradual licensing regulations enacted by several states. These laws limit the benefits of having a license by imposing restrictions on 16 and 17-year-old teen drivers, such as prohibiting them from driving with other teens.
Why Is Teenage Drunk Driving a Common Cause of Fatal Crashes?
Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers in America, making 15- to 20-year-old drivers especially vulnerable to fatalities and injuries on our roads. Teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal collisions as all other drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The end of the school year is the most exciting time for teenagers, but it is also the most dangerous. Many teenagers admit to unsafe driving habits and dismiss any risk-related concerns, believing they are safe drivers.
These new statistics highlight the critical need for more information about safe driving. This suggests that either teen define safety differently or that we need to educate them more about the risks associated with such behavior. More importantly, it should remind parents to constantly discuss the importance of safe driving practices with their children.
Many teenagers feel liberated when they obtain their driver’s licenses. It conveys a sense of freedom and, most of the time, invincibility. However, teenagers must remember that their newfound driving pleasure comes with significant responsibility.
In an ideal society, teenagers would abstain from drinking until they reached the legal drinking age. Many teenagers will drink for the first time while still in high school due to peer pressure and other external influences. We must educate teen drivers on how drugs and alcohol can impair their driving ability.
Adult drivers who test positive for a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.8% or higher are generally not permitted to operate a motor vehicle. However, the law is much stricter for teen drivers. Driving after consuming alcohol is illegal in all 50 states for anyone under the age of 21. Understanding how alcohol affects someone’s ability to drive is critical to understanding the law.
What Are the Impairing Effects of Alcohol?
Because alcohol is a depressant, it can cause the central nervous system (CNS) to slow down. The cerebrum is the part of the brain that is in charge of thought and judgment. The cerebrum’s influence on alcohol impairs the brain’s ability to process rational decision-making. As a result, drinking alcohol is frequently referred to as a method of lowering inhibitions.
Decisions made under the influence of alcohol are more dangerous. It also impairs vision, particularly at night. When a person consumes a lot of alcohol, especially binge drinking, the cerebellum, a brain region, is affected.
The cerebellum regulates muscle contraction. Once alcohol reaches the cerebellum, it slows the body’s reflex response, making a person less able to react quickly in an emergency. When alcohol enters the cerebellum, it has a negative impact on body stability, hand-eye coordination, and balance.
Overall vision blurs, depth perception is lost, and spatial awareness becomes extremely hazy. If a driver is under the influence of this much alcohol, they will be unable to react in time if the vehicle in front of them abruptly breaks or something rolls across the road. The driver may not be able to see straight ahead or notice how closely they are following the vehicles in front of them.
The most commonly associated drugs with impaired driving are alcohol and marijuana. Any drugs that affect the state of mind or reaction times, on the other hand, are considered potentially impairing. All illegal drugs are included in this category because their effects are hazardous to your driving and health.
The teenage years are frequently associated with a desire to experiment with various drugs. This time period is also associated with the onset of drug abuse in many people. Many teenagers experiment with combining two or more drugs to see what the experience is like. The main issue is that these drugs have a significant impact on their decision-making abilities.
Marijuana, not alcohol, is the most commonly associated drug with impaired driving among teenagers. Many people are concerned about the safety of marijuana use while driving as more states legalize it. Even in states where marijuana use is legal, no amount of marijuana is safe for young drivers to consume.
Marijuana Impaired Driving
Driving while high, like driving while intoxicated, is illegal and dangerous for teenagers. Anyone accused of driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol receives a DUI, which can have serious consequences for your teen’s future.
According to a study note from the Highway Loss Data Institute, marijuana use was a factor in 27% of all teen DUI cases in Colorado in 2018. According to a study published in JAMA Network Open, 49% of marijuana users aged 14 to 18 drove after getting high in 2017.
Even though laboratory studies of individuals with THC in their blood do not show cognitive deficits on single tasks such as recall, addition, or subtraction, there may be a more significant influence on multitasking and handling unforeseen circumstances common when driving:
- Cannabis may make it more difficult to react
- Marijuana use can impair coordination, alter perception, cause memory loss, and make problem-solving difficult.
- Marijuana use among teenagers and young adults may have long-term effects on brain development.
Drug-related Car Crashes
On an average weekend, one teen is killed in a car accident every hour. More than 45% of collisions involve alcohol. Over 35% of people between the ages of 16 and 20 are killed in car accidents. Alcohol is thought to be responsible for 36.1% of the percentage. Every year, over 28,000 people are killed as a result of drug-impaired driving.
One out of every ten high school students is said to drive drunk. Statistics from the past show that number decreasing. Since 1991, this figure has fallen by more than 51%. Despite this, the CDC estimates that 2.4 million high school students drink and drive each month. Young drivers under 21 are significantly more likely to be killed in a car accident when their BAC is 0.8% or higher than sober drivers.
How To Prevent Teenage Driving Under the Influence?
Regulation of the Sale of Alcohol to Minors
Every state has minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) laws that make it illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under the age of 21. According to research, retail sales of alcohol to people under the legal drinking age have decreased as a result of MLDA regulations that use alcohol merchant compliance checks to enforce them.
Every state has a “zero tolerance” law that makes driving after consuming alcohol illegal for anyone under the age of 21. According to studies, these rules have reduced the number of collisions caused by teen drunk driving.
Improve Driving Skills
Graduated driving licensing (GDL) programs help new drivers gain experience in less dangerous situations. As they get older, teenagers gain more rights, such as the ability to drive at night or with passengers. While GDL is legal in all states, the regulations vary. GDL systems, according to research, can save lives by preventing accidents.
Parental involvement is critical for new drivers’ safety as they learn to drive, with a focus on monitoring and limiting what they can do. A parent-teen driving agreement can be created and signed by parents and their teens. According to research, when their parents set and enforce the “rules of the road,” young drivers have fewer crashes, moving violations, and dangerous driving.
Public Education on Drunk Driving
Many parents are unaware that riding or driving in a car with a teen driver puts their teen’s safety at risk. In 2019, approximately 2,400 teenagers aged 13 to 19 were killed in car accidents. Every day, there are seven too many teenagers. The main reason? Driving inexperience.
You, the parent, serve as your young driver’s most crucial safety element. You can:
- Recognize that most young drinkers aim to get drunk.
- Be aware of the risks associated with teen driving while intoxicated and that teenagers are much more likely to crash after drinking than adult drivers.
- If their driver has been drinking, give adolescents a safe means to go home, like picking them up or sending them, or paying for a cab.
- Exemplify responsible driving.