OHSU

Drinking & Driving

An average of one teenager dies each hour in a car crash in the United States, and nearly 50 percent of those crashes involve alcohol, according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHSTA).

Alcohol is the drug of choice and the drug most widely abused by children. Alcohol abuse occurs among all geographic, ethnic and racial groups. Teenagers lack the coping and judgment skills necessary to handle alcohol wisely.

Did You Know?

  • There are an estimated 3.3 million teenage alcoholics in the United States.
  • Adolescents who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who begin drinking at age 21.
  • Kids who drink alcohol are five times more likely to smoke cigarettes, four times more likely to smoke marijuana and three times more likely to use an illicit drug.″   
  • Teens who use alcohol tend to become sexually active at earlier ages.
  • Teenagers who use alcohol are more likely to be victims of violent crimes such as aggravated assault, robbery or rape.
  • The use of alcohol by adolescents is implicated in about one third of all fatal crashes involving teenagers.

Peer Pressure and Parental Influence on Your Child

Peer pressure and environmental factors impact a teenager's decision to use alcohol. Your choices and behavior influence the choices  your child makes.

Signs your child my be abusing alcohol

  • A decline in school performance
  • High-risk behavior or a sudden change in behavior
  • Money missing from your home

Why Teenagers Are Different

Due to their lack of driving experience, teens are less skilled than adults at detecting and reacting to driving hazards, controlling the car and adjusting the rate of speed in variable conditions. Adolescent driving habits also are influenced by peer pressure, emotions and other stress factors.

Night driving is more difficult and a teenager is four times more likely to be killed while driving at night than during the day. Also, the low rate of safety belt use among teenagers increases the risk and severity of injuries in a crash. The risk of injury to teens in a car crash more than triples when they are not wearing seat belts. 

Safety Tips

It is important to help your teen understand why they are not equipped to handle the responsibility of drinking alcohol and why it is most important to never drink and drive. Use the following guidelines to educate your child on the merits of obeying the law and being safe.

Set the Example

  • Drink alcohol responsibly.
  • Don’t drink and drive.
  • Don’t speed.
  • Require all occupants to wear seat belts.
  • Make sure the care your teen drives is mechanically safe.
  • Impose penalties for irresponsible driving.
  • Limit the number and age of passengers and restrict nighttime driving.
  • Delay the onset of unsupervised driving until your are confident of your chid’s driver’s ability.

Teach Your Child

  • Educate your teen about all related laws. Make it clear that alcohol is illegal to buy or possess if you are under 21.
  • Begin to educate your child about alcohol as early as ages 9 to 11.
  • Teach your child about true friendship so they will be able to stand up to peer pressure.

Stay Involved

  • Stay involved with your child as they become adults; this is important for their own self-worth as well as your peace of mind.
  • Encourage your child to talk to you about anything.Encourage their choice of friends who don’t drink.
  • Insist that they never get into a car with a drinking driver or friend. Tell them to call you or another trustworthy adult for a ride, or to take a taxi that you will pay for.
  • Encourage them to avoid parties where alcohol is served.

Make the Rules

It is important that you clearly explain to your child the harsh consequence for drinking and driving or being in a car with a driver who has been drinking. Also, learn about and discuss with your child the consequences of being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) while underage.

For more information:

503 418-5666
safety@ohsu.edu

Location:

Doernbecher Children's Hospital Lobby
700 SW Campus Drive Portland, OR 97239

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