Educating Your Graduates: Alcohol Awareness and Drunk Driving
Graduation season is upon us. All across the country, young adults are preparing for the festivities with great excitement. Parties will be thrown to celebrate commencements. For many, however, a time that is supposed to be fully of joy and fanfare turns into tragedy. Graduates and their friends often mark these memorable occasions by consuming alcoholic beverages, which can sadly turn deadly.
SAS: Startling Alcohol Statistics
Unfortunately, many young adults partake in drinking alcohol at graduation festivities — and then get behind the wheel of a car. Because the effects of alcohol make a person feel good, many people are deceived, believing that they are fine to drive; however, alcohol severely inhibits a person’s ability to drive, as it inhibits the memory, slows reaction time, and leads to poor decision making.
The statistics related to teens and drunk driving are startling:
- An estimated 1,900 young adults under the age of 21 die as a result of alcohol-related automobile crashes every year, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
- As many as 17% of drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 were involved in motor vehicle crashes had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more, reports The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The legal BAC limit is .08% throughout the country.
Parents Against Drunk Driving
Fortunately, parents can help prevent the incidence of drunk driving and the accidents that occur as a result of drinking and driving during the graduation season – and all year long.
How can parents and other adults help? Here are some effective strategies to keep in mind:
- Talk with your graduate. Many underage drinkers who get behind the wheel while they are under the influence simply aren’t aware of the risks that are involved with drinking and driving. Be open, honest, and non-confrontational. Share statistics, such as those above, and others found here, relating to underage drinking and driving. Present information in an informative, educational way. You could consider drawing up a chart to illustrate statistics, or you and your graduate could research statistics on the Internet together, for example.
- Review Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). Many underage drinkers and drivers are not aware of the legal BAC, and some may not even realize what a BAC is. Educate your graduate about BAC.
- Explain that it is a metric that measures alcohol concentration, and that .08% is the legal limit for people who are of age drinking age; however, for people under the age of 21, there is a Zero Tolerance Law – or a 0% BAC. Though those who are younger than 21 are also not legally allowed to consume alcohol beverages.
- It is a wise idea for parents to review how their teens can test their blood alcohol concentration, in the event that they do imbibe. The Cleveland Clinic offers this handy blood alcohol concentration calculator.
- Discuss the Legal Repercussions of Underage Drinking and Driving. The statistics regarding drinking under the age of 21 and driving are certainly staggering. You can further drive home your point by highlighting the legal repercussions of drinking and driving under the age of 21. Jail time, hefty fines, and loss of license are just some of the consequences.
- Review Ways to Be Responsible. While graduates who are under the age of 21 are not legally allowed to drink, in the event that they do, it is best to discuss ways that they can be responsible:
- Designate a driver before attending a graduation party.
- Call a cab or use Uber.
- Call parents or another responsible driver.
- Monitor alcohol levels with a breathalyzer.
- Be Responsible Hosts. If you are a parent who is hosting a graduation party, you should be a responsible host:
- Serve non-alcoholic beverages. Soda, juice, and water are fine, but to make the festivities a little more exciting for the graduate and his or her friends, serve of some mocktails (non-alcoholic drinks that contain a combination of fruit juices and/or soft drinks). Virgin strawberry daiquiris and virgin pina coladas are enjoyable. To step up the fun factor, consider creating signature mocktails with your graduate. This could be nonalcoholic beverages that features his school colors, or one that is named after her, for example. Serve the mocktails in fancy cups and garnish them to make the guest of honor and his or her friends feel extra special.
- Offer a lot of food
- Keep an eye on all guests, watching for suspicious behavior. Should you suspect an underage guest is under the influence, take away his or her keys, arrange for alternate transportation, or invite him or her to sleep at your house to prevent a potential tragedy.
As the parent of a graduate, it is your responsibility to educate your young adult about the risks of underage drinking and driving, and help him or her make smart decisions. While keeping your graduate safe is your primary concern, if your son or daughter is involved in an accident, you want to ensure you have adequate insurance coverage. Adding a personal umbrella policy to your existing auto insurance policy can provide additional peace of mind, should an incident occur.