Most Important Talk To Have With Your Teen
Some tools can make your life better, others can save your life altogether.
MADD's contract for life is one of those tools.
Like so many aspects of driving, we don't talk about times when we shouldn't drive.
All too often, our "optimism bias" kicks in...
"It'll be alright! I'm just going a few blocks."
But it's not alright, and you're either pulled over for drink driving or you cause a crash.
In the former situation, it's a fine; in the latter, you may kill someone.
Deciding NOT to Drink & Drive is a decision made before you start drinking!
No matter where you are in the world, the consequences for drink driving are serious.
And the conviction of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, will haunt you for a very long time.
Have the talk with your parents today and sign MADD's (Mother's Against Drunk Driving) "CONTRACT FOR LIFE."
Like driving, there is a lot of peer pressure to drink and be like your friends at a social gathering.
Sometimes, when you're young, it's difficult to say NO.
You simply want to fit in.
And the culture of drinking for some, is tied into our society's bravado - especially for young men.
In other words, the ability to drink a lot in some groups is seen as a sign strength and virility.
Heck, even as an adult it's sometimes hard to say no.
However, it's a lifesaving skill to be on "yellow alert;" or "head on a swivel" as my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Coach says.
Never, ever get in a vehicle where the driver is breaking the rules of the graduated driver's license.
If they've been drinking, there are three or six people in the car, or someone in the vehicle is just being a raucous ass.
Distracted driving is almost as bad and drunk driving.
If you walk away, people may not like it, but they will respect you.
People don't have to like you, but they will respect you if you make the right choices and stick to them.
And if they don't, find different friends.
Yes, we all want to be like and have tons of friends...and no, your Facebook friends don't count.
It's more important to be alive, have good health, and be respected, than to just be a patsy.
A patsy - that's someone's lap dog.
You know...a flunky!
A gopher...go for this; go for that.
I think you get the picture.
One Moment Can Define Your Life
In mid-March of 2012, Damien Bittar celebrated his 21st birthday.
At 1.30am—just 90 minutes after his birthday—he crashed his car into the side of Serenity Lane in Eugene, Oregon.
Serenity Lane is a rehabilitation centre.
The damage to the centre was minimal.
"...the damage that happened what rhodies and grass." said George Spurny, the clinical services director.
Although ironic, this was one of the minor drink-driving incidents.
Many Crashes are Fatal
In late-June of 2020, eight teens climbed into a Toyota 4-Runner.
They travelled through Carlsbad, California during the early-morning.
The 4-Runner had a seating capacity for five passengers.
A number of the teens were unbelted, and one rode in the cargo area of the SUV.
The driver was distracted by the number of passengers, and no doubt showing off.
Unfortunately, like too many teens with limited experience, the youth moved to negotiate a turn at a speed far too fast for the SUV.
The SUV's high centre of gravity in combination with its weight made the vehicle unstable.
Going around a corner far too fast, the SUV's high centre of gravity in combination with the speed caused the vehicle to roll.
One of the teens in the vehicle was killed.
Now, take a moment...
Imagine if you were the driver of that vehicle.
If you have any semblance of a moral compass you're going to feel absolutely terrible.
And you're going to feel this way for a very, very long time.
Some never recover from the tragedy.
In 2006 my niece was killed in the early-morning hours while riding an all-terrain vehicle with her boyfriend.
Her boyfriend survived the crash, but not the ordeal.
A few years later unable to deal with the grief, he committed suicide.
Cost of Defending a Drink Driving Charge
In a number of incidences, nothing's going to happen.
It's one of the reasons that so many driver's do crazy things while they're driving.
Traffic authorities know that most drivers experience a crash only once every fourteen years.
And like crashing, the chances of getting pulled over by police is random.
However, if you do get pulled over by police for drunk driving it's costly.
You're without your vehicle because it gets towed.
You have to rely on your family or friends to get you around.
Or you just drive another vehicle without a license, which is dangerous because now you're driving without insurance.
And you have to invest a lot of money and time to defend yourself in a court of law.
A taxi cab seems pretty cheap compared to $8-12,000 in legal fees.
And that's if you're found "Not Guilty".
If you're convicted, the costs continue.
The first are insurance costs which make driving prohibitive and have you considering buying a horse.
And in worst case scenarios, you have to get an ignition lock installed in your vehicle.
Oh yeah, and you get to pay for the privilege of having an ignition lock in your car.
And not to mention all the other administrative costs that are associated with a conviction of drink driving.
Note to Parents
Get your contract for life and have one of the most important conversations with your teen drivers.
Yes, it's not an easy conversation.
And it's not an easy conversation because you have to admit that your teen isn't the angel you'd made her out to be in your mind.
Young people are figuring out life.
And in their moves to figure out life, they're going to try alcohol.
And maybe some marijuana and other stuff.
If you put support systems in place and pre-empt the situation, maybe it won't happen at all.
And the great thing about the contract for life agreement is that it works both ways.
If you're at a party and need a ride home, your teen will come and get you.
And if they're at a party—no matter the time, no matter the place—you will go and get them.
It's a win-win situation that helps everyone to avoid the grief, pain and energy of a car crash.
And if you—yes you the parent—do get a call from your teen, you don't get to lecture or scold.
Go and pick them up as per your agreement.
Drive them home and let it rest at that.
If you lecture them, ground them, or impose any other penalties, you've voided the contract.
And of course, worse yet, your authority as a parent.
In fact, reward them for being responsible and becoming the great people that you've directed them to become.
Man turns 21, hits rehab center, arrested on DUI accusation, T. A. Press, The Oregonian, 16 March 2012, https://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/2012/03/man_turns_21_hits_rehab_center.html
Fatal rollover: SUV carrying 8 teens crashes on California street, C. C. W. SERVICE, The Mercury News 24 June 2020, https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/06/24/fatal-rollover-suv-carrying-8-teens-crashes-on-california-street/