Drinking and Driving – A Problem

Even though the legal age for drinking in the United States is 21, most people consume their first alcoholic beverage well before they are legally able. Teen drinking, combined with the freedom that comes with a driver’s license, is a fatal combination because it puts young adults in the position to make poor decisions that will forever impact their lives and the people around them. It is important to understand the underlying influences of teenage drunk driving to better educate children on the dangers of alcohol, peer pressure, and driving under the influence.

The effects of alcohol on the body

While some states have exceptionally strict laws, most consider an adult to be drunk if he or she has a blood-alcohol content of over 8%. For teenagers, however, driving with any alcohol in the blood at all is considered illegal in every state in the country. Part of this has to do with the inability of teenagers to determine whether they are capable of driving and a lack of knowledge concerning just how the body responds to alcohol consumption.

Like a depressant, alcohol impacts the nervous and circulatory systems. It takes longer for nerves to communicate with the brain, delaying reaction time and impairing motor function. Along with this, it has been proven that alcohol can have an impact on inhibitions, making it increasingly likely for people to make irresponsible or reckless decisions.

In addition to slowing reaction time, alcohol can impact balance, eye-hand coordination, and the ability to make quick decisions when placed in a dangerous position. Vision is strongly affected, and since most drunk driving occurs at night, this can greatly increase the risk of a serious accident.

Percentage of drivers involved in fatal crash

It has been shown that about 10% of teen drivers have been behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol. While this is an improvement over the past, it is still greatly concerning and contributes to about one teen death per hour. Over weekends, about 45% of car accidents involving teen drivers have had some connection to alcohol use and over a third of the accidents that kill people between the ages of 16-21 are drunk driving accidents.

Teenage drunk driving kills about 18 people everyday. The average boy takes his first drink at age 11 and the average girl, at age 13. Everyday an average of 11,318 teens try alcohol for the first time. More than half of high school seniors report that they have been drunk at least once. and three million teens are reported to be alcoholics. (Wilkins 2020).

Real life situation

A 17 year old teen, who was later accused of being under the influence of drugs and alcohol, was driving a mini ford pickup truck which was suspected to be one of his friend’s. While on the city road, he exceeded the specified speed limit of 55 miles an hour by about 35 to 45 miles an hour, becoming a danger to the oncoming traffic. Due to the inability of the young boy to keep the vehicle under control, his car collided head-on with an oncoming car, containing the elderly couple, who were driving at a normal speed. The impact threw the couple from the car, which ended up six feet away from where the collision occurred. The couple died instantly. The truck driven by the teenager lost traction and hit the railing on the left side of the road, causing the vehicle to overturn and lead to serious injuries upon the driver.

Drinking and driving should not happen.  Especially when you can put your own life in danger, as well as, others. Drinking and driving is still a problem among teenagers and needs to be dealt with, now and in the future. We can not ignore the issue – we can raise awareness and give teenagers responsible alternatives.

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Drinking and Driving – A Problem