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The link between teen mental health and reckless driving

May 9, 2015 0 Comments

link between teen mental health and reckless driving

Many parents are often wary when an adolescent first obtains a driver’s license because of the potential dangers. Teen accidents are likely to occur often as a result of inexperience behind the wheel of a car. In 2012, more than 100,000 teens died in traffic accidents. Greater prevention and awareness efforts in the future can hopefully continue to lower these statistics. Whether an accident is due to symptoms of a health disorder or other reasons, anyone can benefit from practicing safer driving and minimizing deadly risk.

Associated disorders
While borderline personality disorder only occurs in a limited number of people, it is still as common as more well-known conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The disorder was first recognized in 1980 and lists reckless driving among its potential symptoms. Bipolar disorder has been shown to have a link to reckless driving, which may occur in a manic state.

If a person is experiencing suicidal ideation, perhaps reckless driving is intentional. Attempting to drive off of a steep cliff, for instance, will present a number of dangers to the individual and possibly other drivers or pedestrians. However, the truth remains most motorists have a less intentional death wish. For instance, the dangers associated with driving under the influence.

Driving under the influence
Driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances presents numerous dangers to both the driver and other motorists. If a driver is in an impaired state, this could lead to a number of different misfortunes. The worst case scenario being death, as in the case of vehicular manslaughter. Killing another driver or passenger in an accident, though often unintentional, can still cause a lifetime of emotional pain. Driving under the influence remains a pressing social and legal issue, with penalties following a blood alcohol content reading of 0.08 percent or greater.

In adolescent drivers, the combined inexperience and impairment of driving skills doubles the potential of being in a fatal accident. The teen will also receive punishment due to being under the legal drinking age if he or she survives the accident. In traffic cases with one or more drivers under the influence, this can play a role in how legal matters play out. This is especially true of repeat offenders. Teens that drive recklessly and continue such behavior into adulthood will eventually lose driving privileges for life. These drivers are considered too great a liability in this case.

An accident resulting from impaired driving can also be one cause of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The driver will often naturally experience extreme guilt if another life is lost. Victims will also face the trauma of losing a loved one, as in the case of a family member. PTSD is possible for any driver or passenger and could be a defining moment in one’s life. Many organizations advocate a zero tolerance policy as a means of strengthening prevention of these horrific circumstances.

How parents can help
Eventually, every parent is likely to discuss driving privileges with their kids. At this time, it is critical for adults to emphasize the importance of safe driving. Teens are already susceptible due to their inexperience of being on the road. Of course, the basics will have been learned in driving school and the DMV, but teens may still be faced with scenarios that are new to them. These odds increase when driving becomes more frequent in areas that are new or less familiar. Parents should be in the passenger’s seat as teens first start driving to guide them as they strengthen the skill, even after they have received their licenses.

When it comes to drinking and driving, the number one rule parents should enforce is not to do it at all. When their child can drink legally, it is always best to tell them it is better to call a cab or someone they trust to drive them home instead of getting behind the wheel after drinking even the smallest amount of alcohol. Of course, teens should also be made aware of the health risks associated with alcohol as well. This will include the possibility of becoming sick due to overconsumption and possible health problems in heavy drinkers.

Teens who commit driving offenses, such as speeding or running a red light, will often need to attend traffic school to correct a violation. Hopefully this serves as a learning experience as teens perfect their driving skills. Otherwise, the individual who chooses to ignore the law and drive under the influence will eventually face the inevitable consequences. Parents should realize that the right time to discuss such matters with teens may be sooner than later, as based on their personal experiences. This can ensure they lead safe lives as drivers and avoid the trauma that may result otherwise. If your teen is demonstrating reckless behavior, please call the White River Academy at 866-300-0616 for more information on how to seek therapy for behavioral issues.

Written by Ryan McMaster, Sovereign Health Group writer

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