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Underage DUI and public service efforts

Although Nebraska parents worry about the decisions their children will make as drivers, teens can tune their parents out when peer pressure comes into play. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has taken a unique perspective on this issue, and it worked with the Ad Council and pro bono helpers to create a new public service campaign targeting underage drunk driving. There are many driving challenges for teens that derive from peer interactions, including distracted driving and drunk driving. In the new drunk driving messaging, teens are encouraged to avoid serious party fouls, especially that of driving after consuming alcohol.

The NHTSA has been effective in past public service campaigns, convincing many that a so-called friend would not let another drive drunk and that buzzed driving is no different than drunk driving. In the buzzed driving campaign, the messaging translated into a nearly 10 percent improvement in young men using alternatives to driving when they consumed alcohol. Similar results are anticipated as the leading cause of teen deaths, automobile accidents, is targeted.

Parents may appreciate the efforts of the NHTSA, and they may want to use the media ads and tech tools as a springboard to discussions with their young drivers. It is helpful to emphasize the severity of some personal outcomes of DUI accidents, including loss of driving privileges, long-term legal penalties, or even loss of life. Additionally, it may be helpful to discuss the family's potential to suffer because of such a decision.

Teens can be prone to risky behavior while driving, making it worthwhile for parents to monitor for signs of such activity. Strong consequences may be important due to the potential legal backlash that could result if that teen is later involved in a catastrophic DUI accident, including a personal injury lawsuit.

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