There are so many tricky conversations that parents need to have with their kids, and talking about drinking and drugs is definitely high on the list. At around the time your not-so-little children are starting to learn to drive, their world is also opening up to the accessibility of alcohol, and maybe even drugs too.
The vast majority of us are undoubtedly aware that drinking whilst under the influence of drink or drugs is a huge no-no, but how do you make the message stick in your young driver’s mind, without either scaring them or making them feel patronised?
Starting the conversation
The chances are that you’ve been talking to your child about drink and drugs for a while now – many pre-teen or teenage kids will ask questions when they either see you having the odd drink, or are experiencing peer pressure from school friends.
- It’s not easy, but being open about alcohol and drugs instead of getting defensive, is more likely to encourage a positive conversation between you.
- You can talk about the legal age for drinking, the recommended units and how many units are in different types of alcoholic drinks, the illegality of drugs and the dangers of all intoxicating substances.
- Explain that drinking slows your brain down, so logically that means that a driver’s reactions are also slower and this can easily lead to accidents.
It’s a great idea to have these conversations before they’ve even started driving, rather than as a response to any possible problems that may arise in the future. This way, nobody should be feeling defensive or angry about anything and the dialogue can feel more encouraging and amenable.
Where’s the proof?
Young people often feel invincible, so it can be tough to make the message hit home that drinking and/or taking drugs will have a detrimental effect on their driving – as well as their life as a whole. At our recent trip to Rockingham, we popped some beer goggles on to our young drivers and let them drive under controlled conditions, with some fascinating results.
- Research discussed on the Brake website shows that compared to older drivers, young drivers involved in a crash are twice as likely to be impaired by alcohol.
- Due to the illegal nature of drug-taking, the evidence surrounding how many young drivers take drugs before getting behind the wheel is harder to determine, but a Freedom of Information request by the BBC in 2016 showed that almost 8,000 people were arrested for drug-driving in England and Wales between March 2015 and April 2016.
Caring parents vs independent teen
It’s incredibly hard when your child is a young adult and they may feel like they are therefore able to make every decision for themselves without your input. It’s great for them to take responsibility for themselves, and we wholly champion young people’s independence!
Our black box technology will be monitoring their speed and other aspects of their driving, red-flagging any potentially dangerous driving, but what we can’t do is track their alcohol levels! Remind them that their insurance, license, health, life, and the lives of others could be at risk if they drive while under the influence – it’s illegal for a reason.
However, if you are concerned that your teen or young adult is drinking too much or that they may be taking illegal drugs, then no matter how awkward the conversation may feel, it’s essential to have it. You can also get support from agencies such as the NHS, Family Lives, or Talk to Frank.
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