Every year in the United States 13,000 people are killed from an alcohol related accident. In a different perspective, that is about 35 people every day (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). To bring this statistic down, schools should educate students on the consequences of drunk driving because teenagers are more likely to get into a fatal car crash than any other age group. Teaching students about the legal ramifications will discourage drunk driving, teaching teens about the death rates, and showing them how to cope with peer pressure situations will all decrease alcohol related car crashes.
While under the influence, teenagers are 17 times more likely to get into a fatal car crash, compared to driving sober (Burgess). Students need to know that alcohol affects their brain more than it affects adults. In fact, 16-20 year olds have the highest rate of alcohol related fatal car crashes (National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Accidents ). This is because teenagers can be impaired by half as much alcohol than an adult. This is caused by inexperience with alcohol, and even with a low blood alcohol content getting into a car tispy can be fatal. Teenagers do not realize that it only takes a couple drinks to become intoxicated.
Furthermore, during parties teens tend to binge drink and then instead of calling their parents to pick them up, they try to drive home or get a ride with someone who is also drunk (Lindsay). It is vital for teenagers to be taught the dangers of driving under the influence. Schools have classes to teach students how to drive, yet the classes do not spend enough time on the consequences of drunk driving.
Another reason for teaching teenagers about drunk driving, is that if they are taught about the legal ramifications it might discourage them from getting behind the wheel while drunk. If teenagers, and adults for that matter, think they can get away with driving drunk they are mistaken. For example, in Minnesota alone 30,000 DUIs are handed out each year. That means one out of seven people in the state has received one (Pinto). A few reasons why it is hard to get away with drunk driving, are because of the checkpoints and patrols, harsh punishments, and strict laws to prevent drunk driving. Although ten states prohibit the checkpoints, research shows that these crack downs are improving the drunk driving conditions on the roads.
According to Joseph Carter, the president of the IACP, More than two decades of research have demonstrated that sobriety checkpoints and other law enforcement efforts make a difference. They are vitally effective techniques to get impaired drivers off of our roads (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). These checkpoints are meant to discourage drivers about driving drunk because if they are caught the consequences are severe. The punishments for DUIs are strict, especially for teenage drivers. One of the laws to prevent teenage drunk driving is the zero tolerance law. This law states that drivers under 21 cannot have a blood alcohol content higher than .02%. Research shows that this law has decreased accidents by 50 percent in some states (National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Accidents). If a teenager is caught, the legal ramifications can include jail time for up to six months, loss of their licenses and fines up to 1,000 dollars. Keep in mind, these punishments are only for first time offenses (Furmento). Not to mention, a teenager’s insurance can be tripled even quadrupled after a first time offense (Pinto).
With these deterrents in mind, a teen would have to think twice about getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.
Continuing on with the education of consequences dealing with drunk driving, there are not only DUIs one would have to worry about. On the flip side of the consequences, teenagers should be educated not only on the legal ramifications but also on the moral consequences. Sometimes teens believe that they are immortal and nothing will hurt them, but they need to realize that every year thousands of people are killed by drunk drivers.
For instance, in Minnesota alone, 300 people are killed from just alcohol related accidents. Furthermore, for every one person that is killed twenty are injured (Pinto). In Illinois, 369 people were killed in 2014. In fact, the highest percentage of alcohol related accidents came from the 16-20 year olds (National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Accidents). Joseph Carter said that impaired driving is not just another traffic offense. It is a serious crime that often causes needless deaths and injuries (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). This quote is important because it shows that drunk driving deaths can be prevented. The reality is, teenagers need to realize every time they get behind the wheel, or in a car with a drunk driver, they are risking the lives of the passengers in the car, but also other vehicles and pedestrian around them.
The final reason for teaching teenagers about drunk driving is not just teaching them about the things that could happen, but how to not get into the situation in the first place. This is because kids do not know how to say no when all their friends are pressuring them to do something. In a study conducted by the NIDA, it was proven that teens are more likely to run through a yellow light if their friends were in the car with them (Bellum). If more teenagers learned at an earlier age not to be pressured by their friends, drunk driving would not be so prevalent.
Some believe that the schools already teach the consequences of drunk driving in the mandatory driving course; however, the class is only a semester long and it needs to get through other things, such as how to drive a car in all conditions, all the road laws, and the mechanics of the car. As one could conclude, that leaves maybe a day or two to go over the effects of drunk driving. Certainly, not enough time to learn all of the laws, ramifications of drinking and driving with peer pressure, and how one decision, at the time seemed harmless, could lead to countless avoidable deaths. With this in mind, schools need to focus on drunk driving to continue reducing the number of drunk driving deaths.
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