TRENTON – It’s graduation time across the country. Young people are exuberant and celebrating. But, every year, tragedy involving teens and alcohol peak during the graduation season. The Professional Insurance Agents of New Jersey Inc. warns that more than 3,500 teens are killed and another 85,000 are injured each year in car crashes involving alcohol.
“No insurance can cover the potential loss caused by an accident while driving under the influence,’ warns PIANJ President Donna Cunningham, CPIA. “Celebrations of milestones and achievements shouldn’t become the cause of tragedy. The most important message to remember is that drinking and driving puts the lives of the driver and others in extreme danger. And, if your child is in an accident while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he or she will be in severe legal trouble and your insurance rates will skyrocket—doubling or tripling premiums.”
Despite recent reports of a decrease in the incidence of drinking and driving, the number-one killer of teenagers still is drunk driving.
“Teens need to be reminded that there are safer ways to have fun than drinking,” Cunningham said. “Many parents feel that hosting a party before or after graduation will ensure their teen’s safety.” But she warned, it’s unsafe and illegal. “Under New Jersey state law, an individual can be held liable for unlawfully furnishing or assisting in the procurement of alcohol to minors.”
PIANJ suggests talking to your teen to help him or her understand the dangers and the consequences of drinking. This may be the best defense you can provide them.
Surveys show that young people rank their parents among the top reasons for NOT drinking. “Talking to our kids and setting clear boundaries regarding alcohol and driving may be the most important thing a parent can do,” Cunningham said. “Explain to them that if they need a ride, it’s okay to call you. Set rules and expectations and keep the lines of communication open. High school graduation day can be the happiest or most tragic time of a teenager’s life.
In addition to discussing the dangers of drinking, says PIANJ, make sure your teen driver and your family’s vehicles are properly insured.
“We need all the tools we can use to keep our teenagers safe. One of the most important benefits of doing business with an independent agent is that he or she knows your family’s specific needs and can work with you, face-to-face to make sure you have the most appropriate coverage.”
PIANJ is a trade association representing professional insurance agencies and brokerages throughout the state.
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