MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Parents talking to their kids about the dangers of drinking and driving is not enough, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
April 21st has been designated PowerTalk 21 Day, the national day for parents to begin ongoing conversations with their kids about alcohol before prom, graduation and the long summer break.
MADD said parents must not only talk with children about the dangers of underage drinking, and being in a car with a someone with someone who has been drinking, they must also set a good example by not doing it themselves or with their kids.
In June 2011, John Wendt was a passenger in the car driven by Nicholas Gribbin, who was reportedly DUI and speeding. Just blocks from John’s home, Gribbin lost control of the car and crashed into a palm tree killing Wendt, 25, instantly.
“I hugged him good night and had no idea it would be our last hug,” said Wendt’s mother, Sue. ” If he had not gotten in that car, he would be alive today.”
Sue Wendt is a now a volunteer with MADD. She shares her heartbreaking story to prevent others from losing their lives to drunk drivers.
“We want to encourage parents to talk to their kids about getting in the car with a drinking driver and underage drinking,” said MADD’s Helen Witty.
They are hoping parents will lead by example when it comes to drinking and driving.
“What we want to say is that parents, not peers, are the greatest influence on kids, that we urge you to show and tell,” said Witty
A new 2016 MADD and Nationwide survey showed that 80% of parents talked to their children about the dangers of riding with a drinking driver. However, 43% of parents admitted to having a drink or two at dinner and then driving their children home in the past year, and one in four parents admitted to riding with a drinking driver in the past year.
A study by Pennsylvania State University’s Department of Biobehavioral Health found that students are more willing to ride with a drinking driver if they see their parents do so.
MADD is also partnering with Miami-Dade police, Miami-Dade Public Schools and the Jackson Health System to spread their message.
“My hope is one day we don’t get these children and have to talk to their parents and tell them they died because somebody who was driving drunk crashed,” said Ryder Trauma Center Dr Gabriel Ruiz.
Parents who don’t know where to start when it comes to talking to their kids about drinking and driving can download a free Power of Parents handbook. MADD also does free 15-minute workshops on online on the matter. Parents can register at madd.org/powertalk21. All information is available in English or Spanish.