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Preventing Teen Drinking and Driving
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Preventing Teen Drinking and Driving

Preventing Teen Drinking and Driving

It is probably one of a parent's scariest moments - when their teen gets their licence and borrows the family car! Parents often ask; will they make sensible decisions, will they make safe choices? Michele Borba was interviewed on dateline and gave many great tips for parents with teens who are now driving.

While there are no guarantees your teen will drink, research shows there are parenting strategies to lower risky behaviors and boost safety odds. Here are critical tips I shared on Dateline and last week on the TODAY show to boost your teen’s safety and your sanity. These tips are culled from research as well as talking to teens.

1.  Set Clear Rules Against Drinking and Put the Rule in Writing

A study of over 1000 teens found that teens with “hands on” parents who establish clear behavior expectations, monitor their teens comings and goings, and aren’t afraid to say no are four times less likely to engage in risky behaviors like drinking and driving. Teen’s also say they will be more cautious about drinking and driving if they know you are serious and will follow through. Feel free to be strict without feeling guilty. It makes no difference whether your teen has a driver’s license no a car—peers do. So stress one rule: “NEVER ever drink and drive.”

Have your teen sign a contract to never drink and drive. Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) provides a free online contract to download. It may help them pause just the second they need to not get behind that wheel.

Set strict consequences.Stress to your teen that drinking and driving—either as the driver or passenger—means an automatic lose of his or her driving license. Then make a pact: if your teen calls for a ride, he can keep that license.

2. Let Your Teen Know You Will Monitoring

This sounds obvious but don’t overlook it: teens say if they know you are watching they are less likely to engage in risky behaviors. Of course, they won’t tell you that to your face – but they do tell researchers. So be there. Waiting at the front door when he comes home is a great technique. Then give him a quick check those signs you may miss:

A quick hug to smell for liquor

Check eyes for redness

Check speech patterns: “How was the party?”

Look for a new pattern of gum chewing or mint sucking to reduce alcohol smell

Watch the walk

3. Form an Alliance With Other Parents

A survey by The Partnership for a Drug-Free America and called the “MetLife Foundation Attitude Tracking Study found that the place where teens are most likely to encounter drugs and alcohol is at parties and other social situations. While not shocking, what is that teens say that many parties are not adult supervised and in some cases it’s the adults who are the suppliers.

99 percent of parents say they would not serve alcohol at their kid’s party; but 28% of teens say they have been at supervised parties where alcohol is available.

A Survey by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia also found that half of teens who attend parties say alcohol, drugs or both are available though 80 percent of parents believe teens attend substance-free parties.

Know your teen’s friends and their parents. Make a pack to monitor each other’s kids and pledge that there will be no unsupervised parties.

Make a rule that you call any parent hosting a party to assure supervision.  Doing so helps you find other parents share rules, which helps when your teen says, “You’re the only parent with those rules” – you can beg to differ.

4. Create a Secret Code with Your Teen

To see the rest of the report go here