MADD Campaign Targets Parents as a Primary Deterrent for Teen Drunk Driving
April 21 is National Talk with Your Teens about Alcohol Day
April 21st is National Talk with Your Teens about Alcohol Day. The day is organized by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
MADD has put together a great collection of communications material to help parents feel more comfortable talking to their kids about alcohol.
Despite those promising numbers, teen drunk driving remains a major problem. Teenagers still get behind the wheel after drinking at a rate of about 2.5 million times each month.
The Facts About Teen Drinking
Studies show teens who were drinking are 17 times more likely to die in a car accident. To this day, alcohol kills more teens than all illegal drugs combined.
Here are a few more startling facts pointed out by MADD.
- Kids who start drinking at a young age are seven times more likely to be in an alcohol-related crash
- High school students who use drugs and alcohol are five times more likely to drop out of school
- Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens and roughly one-quarter of fatal crashes involve an underage driver who was drinking
- More than 40% of all 10th graders admit to drinking alcohol
Education is Key
MADD is going big on education in hopes of making parents the most important and effective deterrent of teen drunk driving. MADD worked with top researchers and psychologists.
The result is the creation of in-depth, downloadable communication materials. These materials help parents work with their teens to help them realize the dire consequences of drunk driving.
In a free downloadable handbook titled “The Power of Parents,” MADD packages research compiled in collaboration with Pennsylvania State University to provide parents with tools backed by scientific knowledge.
The handbook is well designed and presented in an easy way to understand. It offers real-world solutions families can implement right away. According to the handbook, there are several deterrents shown to reduce levels of teenage drunk driving.
Zero Tolerance Laws: DUI laws vary state-by-state. MADD’s research shows states with zero tolerance DUI laws, such as Arizona, have lower instances of teen drunk driving. That’s primarily because the harsh penalties could have a drastic impact on someone’s future prospects.
This especially the case when the offender is over 18 years old and could end up with a conviction on their permanent record and serve mandatory jail time. There’s also the financial hardship of hiring a DUI attorney and court fees.
Teens in zero tolerance states are much less likely to take on the risk.
Positive Parenting: Researchers found positive parenting is much more effective in discouraging teens from underage drinking and drinking and driving.
Parents with a more authoritative style are actually more likely to have kids who act out and engage in underage drinking.
Authoritarian parents have a controlling style.
- Teens face punishment for disobedience
- Authoritarian parents do not feel obligated to explain the reasoning behind their rules
- Teens are kept in inline through threats and punishments
Parents who employ a positive approach boosts their teen’s self-esteem. Parents with a positive approach better equip their children to deal with peer pressure and make smart choices, including avoiding underage drinking.
Positive parents tend to:
- Set clear expectations about what kind of behavior they expect
- Explain the reasoning behind the rules and limitations they set
- Take an active role in educating their kids about responsibility
With National Talk to Your Teens about Alcohol day still a few weeks away, parents have plenty of time to download helpful materials that will make the job of talking to their kids about underage drinking and drinking and driving much easier. Check out the Power of Parents page to download a free pocket guide.