Citing the facts that June is the single deadliest month of the year when it comes to teen driving and that summer’s arrival also ushers in that contiguous period (May - August) when the greatest number of U.S. teen traffic deaths occur [i], a Washington-metropolitan area alcohol education group is urging parental involvement to combat both teen drinking and drunk driving this summer.
Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) is providing area parents of teens with “Ten Tips for Prevents to Prevent Underage Drinking” (which are available as a downloadable and or printable pdf at https://wrap.org/tips2021.pdf). WRAP’s ten annual summer tips, designed to inform Greater Washington parents on how best to deter teen drinking during the dangerous summer months, include:
- Understand the Dangers…Drinking underage not only increases the chances of dependency later on in life but also leads to short and long-term consequences as well as leading to other risky behaviors.
- Know the Law…The District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia all have zero-tolerance laws, making it illegal to consume, possess or purchase alcohol under the age of 21.
- Be a Role Model…Parents should be role models to their teens and make sure their own behaviors are appropriate. Use alcohol moderately, serve as a responsible host and never drink and drive.
- Know your Liability…In most cases, its unlawful for parents to allow their children's friends to consume alcohol in their home. Parents or adults may face criminal charges later on if these same "friends" are involved in a crash.
“In 2019, an average of four-dozen teenagers died in U.S. motor vehicle crashes every single day during the summer months (May – August),” said WRAP President Kurt Erickson. “For too many parents, unfortunately, summer’s unstructured time may also be a deadly time for their teenage children and their friends.”
In 2018, 24-percent of young drivers (ages 15 to 20 years old) killed in U.S. crashes had been drinking (with a blood alcohol concentration [BAC] level of 0.01 grams/deciliter or higher according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). That same year, nearly one-in-five (19%) young drivers killed in U.S. traffic crashes has a BAC of 0.08 g/dL or higher.[ii]
According to the 2020 Monitoring the Future survey sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, alcohol remains the “substance most widely used by today’s teenagers.” In addition, the most recent national survey of adolescent drug use reports increases in binge drinking amongst all three surveyed age groups (8th, 10th and 12th grade students).[iii]
In addition to its tips for parents to deter underage and drunk driving this summer, WRAP also encourages parents to be aware of social networks which their children use. Party promoters often prey on youth via social media sites and by promising a good time and access to alcohol for a fee, according to WRAP.
“Make no mistake about it, parents play an integral role in when and if their children drink alcohol,” said Erickson. “These tips are simply meant to reinforce their efforts to foster a healthy and safe summer for them and their teenage children.”
Founded in 1982, the nonprofit [501(c)(3)] Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) is a coalition of diverse interests using effective education, innovative programs and targeted advocacy to end alcohol-impaired driving and underage drinking in the Washington, D.C. metro area.
Through public education, innovative health education programs and advocacy, WRAP is credited with keeping the metro-Washington area’s alcohol-related traffic deaths historically lower than the national average. WRAP, however, may best be known to area residents via the organization’s popular free safe ride service for would-be drunk drivers, SoberRide®. For more information, visit WRAP’s web site at https://wrap.org/.