The number one cause of death amongst youngster between the ages of 15 and 24 is drunk driving and so educating your teenagers about the dangers of drinking and driving is particularly important, not only for their own protection but for the protection of other road users and pedestrians.
The first mistake which many parents make in this area is to assume that they do not need to raise the subject until their own teenagers learn to drive. You do not need to be behind the wheel of a car to understanding the dangers of drunk driving and, like everything else you teach your children, the earlier they learn the more likely the lessons are to stick.
When it comes to the consequences of drunk driving teenagers need to fully understand just what it means to kill another person on the road and the devastating impact which this can have on their family and friends. But they also need to realize that many people are also injured as a result of drunk driving and they and their families may have to live with the consequences of severe injury for the rest of their lives. This is not always easy for a teenager to understand but it is a lesson which they need to learn.
It is also important for teenagers to fully understand the consequences of being caught behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated. So, find out about the drink driving laws in your state and clearly spell out the consequences of a drink driving conviction. Explain to them that a drink driving conviction can not only land them in jail, but can also ruin their career prospects and prevent them from getting a good job.
Now, despite your best efforts, it is still quite possible that your teenager is going to find himself in the position of having had too much to drink when he is out with the car and being caught between driving the car home when he knows he is not fit to do so, or calling you and getting yelled at for being so irresponsible. So, this too is something which you need to discuss with him before it happens.
Remember that we all do silly things when we are young and the most important thing is to stay safe, learn our lesson and live to try again to get it right next time. So, if your child is in this position he must know that he can call you no matter what condition he is in or what time of the day or night it is to come and pick him up.
This is not to say that you are condoning his actions in getting drunk or that he should not be punished for his irresponsibility. But your first job is to keep him safe and make him realize that he made the right, sensible and mature decision by calling you for help.
Finally remember that there is no better way to teach your children anything than through your own example and that means making sure that you never drink and drive yourself. If your children see you leaving your car keys at home and taking a taxi to go out to a party then they will follow suit.