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With the end-of-the-year holidays in sight, teen drivers must prepare for an all-too-common risk on the road: driver impairment.
Alcohol and teens are a dangerous mix. According to NHTSA, about 25% of teen car crashes involve an underage drinking driver, and Christmas and New Years are popular drinking holidays. All 50 states have zero tolerance underage drinking laws for a reason: inexperience already puts teens at high risk for a fatal crash and alcohol makes the odds much worse.
Alcohol isn’t the only impairment danger, either. Teens must avoid all forms of impairment, including legal and illegal drugs which can affect reaction time, and fatigue. With a tradition of staying up well past midnight, New Year’s Eve is an especially concerning holiday for the risks of fatigue.
Before these holidays begin, talk to your teen about the dangers of driving while impaired and help him or her understand the different substances and issues that can lead to impairment. If your teen plans to be out late for New Years, for example, make sure he or she has a plan to get home safe.
Even if your teen understands the risks of driving while impaired, he or she is still likely to encounter other impaired drivers on the road. To stay safe, teens should be on the lookout for impaired drivers this time of year and take extra precautions, such as avoiding driving late at night.
Remember, you set the example for your teen, so it is crucial that you avoid impaired driving yourself. Show your teen that it can be easy to enjoy the holidays and stay safe, and they’ll be more likely to follow your lead.
Have a safe and happy holiday season and New Year!
DriveitHOME™ is an initiative of the National Safety Council, designed by and for parents of newly licensed teen drivers. DriveitHOME™ offers free resources parents can use to help their teen build experience to become safer drivers.
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