Parents urged to set responsible driving example this New Year
Christmas Day hasn't even arrived yet but many teens will already have some idea of what they are doing on New Year's Eve and there's a good chance it will involve alcohol.
While parents can't be with their kids all the time, they can help them to make safe choices and this year, they are being urged to help their children understand the dangers of driving under the influence - and make sure they model responsible driving themselves.
The US-based Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) carried out a survey on teen drivers in the US in which it found that teens were more likely to get behind the wheel after drinking or using drugs on New Year's Eve than any other day.
Of the more than 1,700 teens surveyed, a disturbing one in 10 (12%) report driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs on New Year's Eve.
"There are approximately 3,000 teenage driving-related deaths a year, a third of which involve alcohol," says Dave Melton, a driving safety expert with Liberty Mutual Insurance and managing director of Global Safety.
"Parents have to play an active role in preventing underage drinking. Talk to your kids before New Year's celebrating begins and make sure they understand the importance of making smart, and possibly life-saving, decisions."
Liberty Mutual and SADD raise concerns, however, that parents may not be helping to curb dangerous driving as the survey also found that they are increasingly consenting to their children drinking.
While in 2010, 30% of parents said they drink alcohol with their children at least rarely, this had risen to 37% this year. Similarly, the number of parents saying they allowed their children to drink alcohol without them present rose from 21% in 2010 to 29% this year.
The number of parents who let their children go to a party where alcohol was being consumed also rose from 36% in 2010 to 47% in 2012.
Stephen Wallace, senior adviser for policy, research, and education at SADD said: "Many adults have a 'been there, done that' mentality when it comes to the issue of impaired driving among teens. Yet, research points out that a majority of their children know that this is a timely and important issue.
"Ask your teen to make a New Year's resolution to avoid underage drinking and to stay out of cars with impaired drivers."
The survey also found that teenagers are not afraid to speak up if they have concerns about a driver being under the influence.
Of those surveyed, 87% said they would ask a driver under the influence of alcohol not to drive.
And 92% of teen drivers said they would stop driving under the influence if asked to by a passenger.
"The best thing a parent can do is have an open and ongoing dialogue with their children about drinking and driving," says Melton.
"Talk through the dangers of reckless decisions and help your kids understand that the conversation isn't punitive, it's preventative.
"I would also encourage all parents and teens to sign the Parent/Teen Driving Contract as a first step toward lifelong safe driving habits, and for parents to make sure to model responsible behaviour themselves."
The Parent/Teen Driving Contract is available at www.LibertyMutual.com/TeenDriving