School is back in session, and for teens that can mean an endless round of books, football games, and the possibility of underage drinking. That makes back to school the perfect time to remind your teen about the dangers of underage drinking, impaired driving, and the potential consequences of impaired driving including license suspensions and ignition interlock installation.
Although many provinces and territories in Canada have a graduated licensing system and zero blood alcohol concentration (BAC) requirements, thousands of teens still make the choice to get behind the wheel after drinking. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the likelihood of teens ending up in a road crash is extremely high. Crashes are the leading cause of death for 16 to 25 year olds in Canada, and 55% of those crashes involve alcohol.
One of the reasons why teens are involved in so many road crashes is because they are inexperienced drivers. Alcohol will affect your coordination and slow down your reflexes, and when you pair alcohol with inexperienced driving skills you have a recipe for disaster. Teens also are risk takers, and if they successfully drink and drive one time, they may be much more likely to try drinking and driving again.
Although zero tolerance laws provide for stiff penalties for teens who drink and drive, including immediate suspension of license, fines, demerit points on their driving record, and the possible impoundment of their vehicle, teens could also benefit from an ignition interlock device for a set period of time after an impaired driving charge. Requiring teens to check their blood alcohol content before driving could reduce crashes even further because, even if they want to take the risk, the car simply won’t start if they drink alcohol.
Whether you’re a teen driver with a new license or a driver with years of experience, the bottom line is that drunk driving is a choice you make. Ignition interlocks work because they take the choice to drive after drinking out of your hands. With provinces getting on board with the interlock device as a requirement for both first time and repeat impaired driving offenders, maybe it’s time to require teen impaired drivers to use one as well.