How To Teach Your Kids About the Dangers of Drunk Driving
Driving is one of the best modes of transportation out there, but it comes with many simultaneous risks and responsibilities. Careful and defensive driving methods are some of the only ways people can stay safe when driving on the road. However, safe driving becomes a massive challenge for people under the influence of alcohol, as they can’t make quick decisions. That’s why it’s so crucial that you teach your children about drunk driving and the dangers it presents. Here’s what you should do to help them understand that danger.
Understanding the Dangers
The first thing you need to do when teaching your kids is understand the dangers of driving drunk yourself. Driving drunk puts you at risk with the law, as driving under the influence is a serious crime that can carry jail time. Beyond the legal ramifications is the increased risk to your safety and the safety of everyone nearby.
Drunk drivers are a part of 30 percent of all traffic accident fatalities in the United States, which shows how dangerous this action can be. Over 10,000 deaths in 2020 stemmed from driving accidents where someone was under the influence. These staggering, devastating deaths are preventable, and every driver has a responsibility to keep the road safe. Understanding the facts and consequences of this topic can help you discuss it with your child.
While driving under the influence puts your child’s life at risk, it also comes with legal ramifications. Every state has its own legislation about the consequences of driving while intoxicated, but most states use driver’s license revocation, jail time, and fines to punish people who drive under the influence. Some states also use the SR-22 to indicate a bad driver and increase insurance premiums for non-owner car insurance, costing you even more money.
Broaching the Topic
Once you have the information you need to discuss drunk driving, it’s time to bring your children in for a talk. You should have this talk before your child ever gets behind the wheel of a car. This is a serious conversation; you should set that tone yourself and leave enough time to have the full discussion.
When you start your conversation, you must go in knowing what you want to say. Develop a plan that targets what your children will understand and care about. Try to tailor the information you want to share to fit their understanding for the best results. Speaking to them honestly and respectfully will help you get your message across. The goal is to avoid stumbling through the conversation while laying everything out and keeping their attention.
Explain the Dangers
The first leg of your conversation should go over the dangers of drunk driving and what it would mean to them. It might not be practical to list off every horrible thing that could happen to them if they drive drunk. Still, the fact that driving drunk could cost their freedom, money, and even life is something every child who’s about to drive should know.
Your words and meanings should be consistent throughout the whole conversation. Children are smart—they’ll pick up on your inconsistencies throughout the conversation, which can undermine what you’re saying. Pick your stance and plan on drunk driving, and keep with it during the whole talk to build a sense of authority on the topic.
Take It Seriously
While it’s easy to cut the tension with jokes or games when talking about something as serious as drunk driving, you should avoid any distractions of the sort. This is a long conversation to have with your children, and it needs everyone’s full attention to really sink in. If your children don’t understand the risks of drunk driving, they could forget its severity and put their lives at risk.
Once you finish the conversation and say what you need to say, you need to keep the floor open for your children. They may have questions, and answering these questions can lead to a better understanding and respect for the topic for everyone involved. Try to keep an open dialogue about this topic so that you can answer concerns and questions when the time arises instead of your children making rash decisions.
Talk About It Often
You should still bring the topic up, even after you have the big talk about drunk driving and the risks that come with it. While it shouldn’t be in every conversation, bringing it up when the situation calls for it’ll help enforce the danger and seriousness of drunk driving. If a prevalent news story about the topic comes up, it’s smart to readdress the issue with your child. You can also revisit it if they are attending a party or going out. It’s important that you be supportive in these talks, reminding them that you care and just want them to be safe.
Show Through Your Actions
The absolute worst thing you can do when it comes to teaching your children about drunk driving is to drive while under the influence yourself. No matter how safe you think you are or careful you feel, this choice teaches your children that the behavior is appropriate. Even if you talk to them beforehand and explain your reasoning, they’ll take it to heart that they can drive drunk and get away with it.
Encourage Good Behavior
Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool to help children understand what they should do, as you encourage the best behavior. As your children show that you can trust them when it comes to responsible driving, you should reward their behavior. Maybe changing curfews, allowances, or even just offering praise or gifts can really help encourage their good behavior.
Set Up Punishments
While you hope you never need them, punishments are a good motivator to prevent actions you don’t want your kids participating in. Figure out the punishments for your children if they do drive while drunk and tell them the punishments ahead of time so that the consequences are fair and understood. This system will discourage drunk driving. However, you need to be willing to follow through on the punishments and enforce those rules. Explaining consequences is very important when teaching your kids about drunk driving.
These are the main ways to teach your children not to drive while drunk and empower them to make responsible decisions. Even if they don’t get into a car accident, drunk driving is a serious crime, and you should do what you can to prevent it.