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Drunk Driving

By , Oak Lawn, IL
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “In 2008, about 3,500 teens in the United States aged 15-19 were killed as a result of motor-vehicle crashes, and 25% of those killed in these accidents had a BAC of 0.08 g/dl or higher.” (“Teen Drivers: Fact Sheet” 1). Believe it or not, teenage drunk driving is still the number one cause of teen death. It has become the deadliest epidemic to plague our society today. With the widespread “Alcohol Awareness” programs, like D.A.R.E. and SADD, available in most public schools, most teens have been told not to drink and drive, yet teens are still taking the risk. In order to finally stop this unnecessary phenomenon, we must first understand its causes and effects. Caused by a number of psychological factors, teenage drunk driving leads to physical, mental, and emotional pain for not only the driver but also the innocent bystanders.

So, what are the causes of drunk driving? For teens, it’s caused by our urge to rebel and our unwillingness to speak out against it. The first cause is rebellion. Whether we’re ditching class, staying out past curfew, or driving while drunk, teens have always been known to rebel against authority. Teens have been told not to drink and drive, but it’s in our nature to scratch our itch to rebel. Teens often brag about drinking and driving as long as they get away with it. Drunk driving is a twisted way to boost the egos of some teens and make them feel defiant. The second cause for this social affliction is that we, as teens, let it happen. Teens today have trouble speaking out against drunk driving. Teens are much more likely to ride as passengers in cars driven by drunk drivers now than in previous generations. The CDC also published that: “In a national survey conducted in 2007, nearly three out of ten teens reported that, within the previous month, they had ridden with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.” (“Teen Drivers: Fact Sheet” 2). Teens are willing to risk their lives and the lives of others because they’re afraid to speak up and say the word: “No.” By not speaking out against drunk driving, teens are unintentionally telling the driver that his actions are acceptable. By doing this, a dangerous cycle is created. Because their peers are not voicing negative opinions of drunk driving, some teens think it’s alright to drive drunk or that everyone else is doing it as well. Not speaking up is positive reinforcement for teenage drunk driving.

The teenage years are full of drama, hormones, peer pressure, and poor decisions. Teens are influenced by the media and their peers. When surrounded by so many toxic influences, they are bound to make stupid decisions like driving drunk. The media has shows playing that show drinking under the influence isn’t a bad thing to do. For example, Jersey Shore shows teens that drinking beyond your limits can end up an entertaining night. The new show Skins shows all kinds of drugs being presented to teens, and it shows teens making poor choices when it comes to D.U.I. To some teens, drunk driving may seem rebellious and cool, or maybe they just don’t know how to avoid it. Whatever the case may be, teenage drunk driving is the most concerning issue in today’s society. Although the causes of this dilemma are mainly psychological factors, the effects can be observed from outside the teenage mind.

The effects of drunk driving can be placed into two categories: death and life after driving drunk. One of the effects of teenage drunk driving is living. You may not die on the ride home, but your life will surely be affected. More specifically, you will have to deal with the repercussions of driving drunk. According to the Office of the Illinois Secretary of State, “If someone under the age of 21 is caught driving with any alcohol in their system, he/she is subject to between 2-5 tears of a suspended license, a $2,500 fine, and possibly up to a year in jail.” (“Use it & Lose it” 1). Additionally, if you are over 18, you are required to include your arrest on any job application you fill out. If you’re not caught, you’re only effect may be the guilt that you will have to carry with you for the rest of your life. Not to mention the greater guilt you will feel if you get into a car accident, kill someone, and live. Also affecting teens that choose to drive while intoxicated is death. The previously cited CDC article states that: “Six teens die every day in the U.S. in alcohol-related car accidents.” (“Teen Drivers: Fact Sheet” 1). If you choose to drive drunk, there is a possibility that you may be ending your own life of the lives of others. There are no positive effects for driving drunk besides the thrill of the ride which has harmful side-effects. So is it really worth the risk?

Now that we have explored the psychological factors, such as rebellion and unwillingness to speak out against the problem, that cause driving under uncertain circumstances as well as the life altering effects that include live after driving and death, it is time to discover how we can end this ever-present reckless decision. The first solution is simple: DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE! If you must consume any amount of alcohol, do not get behind the wheel. There are two major alternatives to this problem. The first step is to find a designated driver. If you or your ride has had a drink, catch a ride with someone who is sober, call a cab, walk, call a friend, or even call a parent. One may think that their parents would be mad about the situation which may be, but they will be completely satisfied that a loved one didn’t make a bad decision and get behind the wheel. With options like these, there are no scenarios where drunk driving is your only choice. Additionally, teens have to speak up. According to the Chronic Report, released by Allstate on the state of Teen Driving, “We won’t see a reduction in alcohol-related teen driving deaths until there is a change in the social causes of unsafe driving.” (“Chronic Report” 2). As teenagers, our attitudes make it acceptable to drink and drive. So, let’s make it unacceptable. If we begin speaking out against the toxic decision of drinking and driving, it will become more unacceptable to more people; we will ignite a chain reaction. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, “In the past ten years, more U.S. citizens have died as a result of drunk driving than in the Afghan War, the Iraq War, and Hurricane Katrina combined!” (“MADD Statistics” 3). Except unlike those military engagements and natural disaster, drunk driving is completely preventable. Ending the deadly drunk driving epidemic is our responsibility. Let’s be the generation that finally puts an end to drunk driving.





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