MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota. Drunk driving and distracted driving among teens is particularly deadly and dangerous. Teen drivers don’t often have experience behind the wheel. Checking a cell phone, texting, or drinking and driving combined with inexperience is a recipe for personal injury and deaths. The Law Office of Martin T. Montilino sees many cases every year where drunk driving alone, or where distracted driving alone, or where inexperience alone led to an accident. Families whose lives have been impacted by personal injury car accidents often wonder how they can prevent future accidents from occurring.
Many schools and states adopt scare tactics to encourage teens to avoid drinking and driving and from using their cell phones while driving. But do these tactics work? In the old days, these scare tactics were limited to gory videos and films showed in driver’s education classes. Now, according to Wired, virtual reality shows teens firsthand what can go wrong when individuals choose to drink and drive. The virtual reality video, called “Decisions” offers a horrifying four-minute journey into the aftermath of a tragic car accident involving a drunk driver, a couple that just learned they are about to have a baby, and a car full of teens heading to a party. It is not for the faint of heart.
The company plans to offer its virtual reality movie to teens in schools and at concerts. Yet, do scare tactics like this really work to prevent drunk driving and distracted driving? According to the Regional Center for Healthy Communities, fear tactics actually seldom work, especially with younger audiences. While emotional appeals to change behavior often lead teens to claim that they will not drive drunk or text and drive, these appeals don’t affect teens when the time comes to actually decide whether or not to engage in the behavior. In fact, repeated exposure to messages that use fear and scare tactics may lead teens to avoid the message entirely rather than consider alternatives and options.
So, what are better options for helping teens avoid dangerous driving behavior? Advertisements that encourage social norms of safe behavior can help. Teens who learn that the vast majority of their peers don’t drink and drive may be more likely to use the positive peer pressure to avoid making unpopular choices.
Parents can also play a role in shaping their teen’s behavior. Setting a good example by putting away the phone when you drive can set new social expectations and norms that your child may be more likely to follow. Rather than merely using emotional scare tactics, parents can talk about the real consequences of drunk and distracted driving: jail time, criminal records, and personal injury lawsuits that can affect a person’s finances for years. Rather than just naming the risks, parents can also review alternatives teens have when it comes to avoiding the behavior. Offering teens a ride home from parties, or suggesting that they turn off their phones before driving can help teens troubleshoot and problem-solve.
Drinking and driving and distracted driving affects many individuals from all walks of life. If you or a loved one was impacted by drinking and driving or by distracted driving, learn more about your rights and options. Visit https://www.martinmontilino.com/ to learn more.