Summer is drawing to a close, which means that thousands of teenagers and young adults will be heading to college. College can offer important opportunities for young people to become independent and expand their horizons. For some students, however, this means experimenting with drugs and alcohol—even if they are underage, and even if they will get behind the wheel of a car.

Drinking and driving is a major concern for colleges and universities. When students choose to drink and drive, they put other motorists and pedestrians—many of whom may be college students themselves—at risk. Data from the National Institute of Health (NIH) show just how prevalent drunk driving can be among college kids.

College-aged drivers and alcohol

The NIH conducts research every year regarding the consumption of alcohol and its influence on driving statistics. According to the institute’s research:

  • Nearly 60 percent of college students between the ages of 18 and 22 admit to consuming alcohol in the past month
  • What’s more, approximately 40 percent of college students admit to binge drinking
  • As a result, over 1,800 students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related accidents, including motor vehicle accidents.

What you can do to protect your child

If you have a college-aged child, there are precautions that you can take to protect them. Have an honest, straightforward conversation with your son or daughter about the effects of alcohol. Tell them that underage drinking is illegal, as is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Either activity can have serious legal consequences, including an expensive fine, expulsion from their school or even jail time.

Inform them that when they go out with their friends, they should make plans on how to get home safely. This may involve:

  • Designating a sober driver
  • Catching a ride with a sober friend
  • Taking public transportation
  • Calling a taxi or rideshare

Any of these alternatives is better than your child experiencing an accident on campus caused by drinking and driving.