Listen and Learn
I've been warning my daughter about the dangers of drinking and driving since, well, conception. She's 24 now and still doesn't drive, but when she does I think she'll know what and what not to do behind the wheel.
As a parent, I couldn't help but tune in to the conversation going on between two young men on the bus recently. One had just gotten his license, and the other was about to go for his permit. The first boy talked about how cool it was to pull up to the McDonald's drive-through in his father's Mustang and rev the engine to elicit a smile from the girl at the order window. The second boy responded with an appropriate amount of wistful envy; then the first started talking a little more seriously.
"And one thing I ain't ever gonna do is drink and drive," he said.
Wow! This young man is starting his driving years out on the right foot, with the right attitude, I thought, feeling that my morning had just gotten a little brighter. Then he continued: "My cousin [screwed] up his life 'cause he got a DUI like when he had been driving for six months. Messed up his car, had to pay a thousand dollars to fix it. Got his license taken away. He got it expunged, but he still can't get into any trouble for like 10 years. Ain't worth it. I don't wanna lose my license."
To which the second boy replied, "Yeah, and your mom would never let you use the car again."
What an aha moment! And one that would serve fundraisers well. Public-service announcements and parents of young drivers preach the consequences of drunken driving mainly in terms of human tragedy. And of course that's essential. But can young people — many of whom don't really know that kind of loss, and who by the very nature of their brain chemistry feel 10 feet tall and bulletproof — really comprehend those consequences? Can they really internalize a lesson that hinges on something they've never experienced and don't believe for a second could happen to them? Or are they more in tune with the possibility of having their licenses taken away and their freshly minted freedom curtailed? If the guys on the bus are any indication, it's the latter.