Getting a driver’s license is a major event in every teenager’s life. However, a license does not ensure the teen will be safe and responsible and avoid dangerous behavior such as drinking and driving.
Unfortunately, impaired driving among teens is a major safety issue in New Jersey and across the country. To help combat this problem, parents should consider the following:
Teen Drinking and Driving Statistics
According to the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, car crashes are the leading cause of death for people ages 16 through 20 in New Jersey and across the nation. Teens represent the largest group of drivers involved in car accidents in our state, with teen crashes occurring roughly once every 10 seconds.
A survey on adolescent substance abuse from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services revealed the following statistic about alcohol and drug use among teens within our state:
- Half of students reported drinking at least once in the prior month
- Almost 40 percent of teens admitted to using or having tried marijuana
- Nearly 10 percent of teens reported driving while under the influence
- 20 percent admitted to being a passenger in a car driven by someone under the influence.
These figures represent those teens that are willing to admit to use of alcohol or drugs. The actual figures are likely much higher.
The Problem of Teens and Drinking and Driving
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), several factors put teen drivers at greater risk than older drivers. These factors include:
- Inexperience – Teens are less likely to know how to respond to road hazards or traffic conditions as they arise.
- Distractions – Teens are more likely to be distracted by cell phones and other passengers in the vehicle.
- Recklessness – Teens are more likely to engage in risky or dangerous behaviors – particularly in front of their peers.
In addition to the above, teens are less likely to wear seat belts. This lack of protection greatly increases a teen’s risk of suffering severe harm in an auto accident.
How Can Parents Prevent Teens from Drinking and Driving
The CDC recommends that parents talk to their teens about the dangers of driving under the influence. One way to approach the topic is through attorney Steven Benvenisti’s Contract for Life.
Steven, who was severely injured after being hit by a drunk driver as a young man, created this contract to serve as an agreement between parents and teens.
In this agreement, the teenager agrees to never drive under the influence or enter the vehicle of another driver who has been drinking. The teen agrees to instead call his or her parents, who in turn agree to pick up the teen, without lecturing or punishment.
What Else Can Be Done About Teen Drinking and Driving?
The CDC lists other ways to combat the issue of teens and impaired driving. These ways include:
- Passing tougher drunk driving laws
- Using graduated license programs (such as those currently in effect in New Jersey), which restrict drivers until they acquire the knowledge and skill needed to be a fully licensed driver
- Raising awareness through programs such as Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey, which work with schools and other community partners to educate about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse.
Get Help from Our New Jersey Car Accident Lawyers
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, contact Davis, Saperstein, & Salomon, P.C. Our experienced New Jersey car accident lawyers can help you to pursue compensation for the injuries you have suffered in a crash caused by a drunk driver. We serve Teaneck, New Jersey and the surrounding areas. Call or connect with us online today for a free consultation.