There are common priorities that teenagers hold to high social standards. Two of the top goals include learning how to drive and fitting in with their peers. Unfortunately, when fitting in leads to experimenting with alcohol and is combined with driving under the influence, the consequences can be dire and even fatal. There is a plethora of prevention programs striving to protect adolescents today, but understanding why they drink and drive in the first place can help save many more lives.
First of all, it is imperative to know that drunk driving is a prevalent, but not an isolated issue. The latest data provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) details the current rate of driving under the influence in the United States. In 2011 alone, almost 1 million high school students had consumed alcohol, became intoxicated and were behind the wheel at some point during that time. Although the rates of drinking and driving have decreased since 1991, currently one in 10 teens in high school still do it, which not only puts them at risk of harm, but also the drivers they share the road with.
According to the nonprofit organization, ReachOut USA, the most common reasons for driving under the influence while underage include:
As it stands now, all 50 states deem it illegal for anyone to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least .08 percent or more. The restrictions are much steeper for minors, as anyone under the age of 21 found operating a motor vehicle with a BAC level of .02 percent or higher can be cited for driving under the influence and be promptly punished by the law. Nationwide research initiatives have gone so far as to show that states with a zero-tolerance policy, where any trace of the substance will result in a DUI, is an effective deterrent against intoxicated driving. Other recommended and effective strategies include graduated driver licensing (GDL) systems that transition new drivers toward gradually gained privileges, such as driving at night or driving with passengers. Parental monitoring and placing certain driving restrictions on teens also play active roles in saving lives.
For behavioral problems that extend beyond the steering wheel, Sovereign Health Rancho San Diego is a facility that specializes in treating adolescents and teenagers struggling with substance abuse, mental health disorders and dual diagnosis. Call us at any time to speak with a professional today.
Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer