Washington Personal Injury Attorney Says Now is the Time for Parents to Talk to Their Teens about Drunk Driving

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Families gearing up for the excitement of prom and graduation season should pause to discuss the importance of responsible teen driving, according to Seattle personal injury lawyer Dean Brett.

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Seattle personal injury attorney Dean Brett

Prom and graduation are special milestones for teenagers. Parents serve their children best in helping them understand the ramifications of drinking and driving.

According to a study conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), 90 percent of teenagers believe their peers are more likely to drink on special occasions.

With prom and graduation season underway, that means it’s time for parents to have frank discussions with their teens about the dangers of drunk driving, Washington drunk driving accident attorney Dean Brett said today.

“Teenagers often look to their parents as their driving role models,” said Brett, whose Seattle-based law firm, Brett & Coats, Personal Injury Attorneys, PLLC, represents Washington DUI accident victims and their families in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.

“Prom and graduation are special milestones for teenagers,” the personal injury lawyer said. “Parents serve their children best in helping them understand the ramifications of drinking and driving.”

One of Brett’s first suggestions is for parents to create an open, honest environment in which teenagers feel comfortable asking questions about alcohol.

“That means parents should be comfortable talking about their own drinking habits, and even admit their own mistakes or poor judgment calls they’ve made in the past,” Brett said.

Parents can also lead by example by implementing their own responsible drinking practices at celebratory events held at home, such as by not allowing guests who have been drinking to get behind the wheel.

“It’s important for parents to show that they’re practicing what they preach,” said Brett. “It’s not good enough to explain abstract legal terms like DUI or tell them that drunk driving can lead to deadly wrecks. They know that.

“They need to know that you want them to have a wonderful time at the prom, but that alcohol isn’t necessary and certainly doesn’t mix when it comes to teen driving.”

The Seattle attorney offers other tips for parents to consider when cautioning their children about drunk driving at http://www.victimsofdrunkdrivers.com, an informational site which his Washington personal injury law firm sponsors. They include:

  •     Explaining the science behind how the body absorbs alcohol;
  •     Deconstructing the myths of drunk driving, such as how a friend may not look intoxicated or sound drunk but is still too impaired to operate a vehicle safely;
  •     Emphasizing that attempting to sober up by drinking coffee, eating food or taking a cold shower does not work.

But the conversation about responsible teen driving shouldn’t stop at alcohol, Brett said. Today there is also the threat of distracted driving, which can include talking on a cell phone, listening to loud music or texting while driving.

According to the Liberty Mutual/SADD survey, 76 percent of teenagers admit to texting while driving. They also consider texting while driving to be the most dangerous behavior that teen drivers engage in.

And according to a 2009 article in The Washington Post, which cited a study on distracted driving by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, almost half of Americans ages 12 to 17 say they've been in cars with someone who texted while driving. Teens said their parents were doing it, too.

“When it comes down to it, parents just want their teens to be safe, and nobody wants to see even one person injured or killed in a wreck that may have been prevented with education about drunk driving or distracted driving,” Brett said.

About Brett & Coats

Brett & Coats, Personal Injury Attorneys, PLLC is a Washington personal injury law firm with offices in Seattle, Tacoma, Bellingham and Spokane. The firm represents car accident victims, including those injured in DUI/DWI accidents, and other personal injury victims throughout the state of Washington. For more information, call the firm at (800) 925-1875, use its online form or visit http://www.victimsofdrunkdrivers.com.

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