Parents of teens know how worrisome it can be when their children take to the road. Adolescents often think no bad will befall them and many may feel more capable behind the wheel than they actually are. While learning to drive is just a part of growing up, with so many external influences at play, this rite of passage can be a dangerous one.
Car Accidents – Leading Cause Of Death In Adolescents
Driving inexperience and substance use can be a deadly combination. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reports that vehicular accidents are currently the leading cause for fatalities among adolescents. Worse, many of these deaths are preventable as close to half involve driving under the influence. It’s no wonder then that many parents are deeply concerned.
Carolyn Swinson who formerly served as chair of the National Board for MADD Canada further validates those apprehensions. According to Swinson, teenagers are more apt to take risks while driving that adults with more experience wouldn’t take. She points out that many of the adolescent traffic accidents we read about in the newspapers or see on television involve factors such as going too fast, not wearing a seatbelt, driving while intoxicated, or trusting a friend who might be driving impaired.
Through a series of studies, MADD Canada has sought to pinpoint the exact elements making teenagers more vulnerable to crashes behind the wheel. An article featured in The StarPheonix, unveils that it is teens’ lack of experience and maturity that makes driving so dangerous for them. Subsequent research also indicated that summer months – and particularly summer nights and weekends – are the most deadly for teen drivers.
Reason Teens Are More Likely To Partake In Risky Behaviors
Turns out, there may be a physiological reason why teenagers are more likely to partake in risky behaviors than their elders. At the time of puberty and into adolescence, dopamine, the feel good chemical in the brain is at the highest level of activity that it will ever be. Essentially, teens may look to participate in thrill-seeking activities since the high they receive from such pleasurable experiences is intensified.
According to Dr. Laurence Steinberg, author of You and Your Adolescent: The Essential Guide for Ages 10-25, adolescents are still in the process of developing impulse control. It is this combination of poor impulse control and thrill seeking behaviors that is particularly dangerous. Steinberg says that for teens, the sensation received from getting drunk, driving fast, and having sex often outweighs the thought of negative consequences.
Parents Need To Set Rules To Drinking And Driving
Experts say that parents wanting to help their children make smarter decisions when it comes to alcohol and driving should set some ground rules. More importantly, if rules are broken, it’s critical to follow through and be consistent with consequences. For example, maybe parents advise that they will pull their child’s license for six months if he or she chooses to drink and drive. Authorities also caution that it is very unwise, not to mention illegal, to provide alcohol to minors as the consequences of such actions could be deadly.
More things parents can do to keep their teens safe include being good role models, networking with parents of other teens, and telling their children that they can always call for a ride, regardless of the time or circumstances.
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