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Does DUI prevention begin with teens?

For some teens and young adults the words "no" and "danger" are a challenge to understand. If an authority figure tells them they can't do something and gives no room for argument, they want to take that risk even more. For decades, scare tactics like alarming statistics of teen deaths or life-changing injuries after a DUI have not been enough to keep drivers from driving drunk.

A recent fatal crash reviewed in The Baltimore Sun involved two drivers. One was in his 40s who had another middle-aged passenger. The car he hit head-on had four young adults between the ages of 18 and 20 inside, who all died in the crash. It turned out the driver was under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

The Baltimore Sun piece was written by someone who's been personally affected by drunk driving. She points to a study by the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health that shows how many behaviors that cause serious accidents are shaped by the teen years. Chances are when that man from the above mentioned crash was a teen, he was fed scare tactics in his own driver's education class. While the presence of these scare tactics alone isn't going to build a DUI defense it is clear that they do little to prevent DUIs.

The thing that keeps teens, or anyone, from taking risks that could hurt them or others isn't necessarily frightening statistics or gory videos, suggests the writer. It's the realization that life is valuable and fragile. Within Maryland and most other states throughout the country, significant amounts of money go into DUI enforcement and prevention efforts that don't seem to be doing the trick.


The Baltimore Sun: "To prevent impaired driving, treat young people with respect," Christina Lindgren, Nov. 30, 2011

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