Prevent Impaired Driving: A Parent's Guide to the X-Plan
December is impaired driving prevention month. Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities account for nearly one third of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. In 2018 10,511 people died as a result of alcohol-impaired crashes. Drugged driving is also becoming a major problem. Whether it’s alcohol or other drugs, impaired driving is impaired driving. December is Impaired Driving Prevention Month, reminding us to continue to communicate with communities the dangers of impaired driving.
Have you heard about the X-Plan? It was created by a father who works with teens during their addiction recovery. From his professional and personal experience, this dad believes that kids usually want to make good choices, but sometimes they need a little help.
The X-Plan is basically an emergency escape hatch to get your teen out of a risky situation while preventing them from losing face with their friends.
How Does the X-Plan Work?
If your child finds themselves in a risky situation involving alcohol, sex, drugs, or anything that makes them uncomfortable, they simply need to text you the letter “X.” That’s the signal to you that your child needs help to gracefully escape an uncomfortable situation. Once you get the text, you call your teen with a previously agreed-upon message.
You can say something like, “Aidan, I need you to come home now. I’ll be there to pick you up in five minutes. I’ll explain what’s going on when I get there.” The pressure is now off of your child, and they’re being removed from a bad situation. If their friends ask them about it the next day, they can just say it’s private and they don’t want to talk about it.
The goal is to get your kid out of that situation as quickly as possible, so try to keep things simple. What if your teen is old enough to drive and makes the bad decision to drink at a party? They can still use the X-Plan to get home safely.
Using the X-Plan to Prevent Impaired Driving
Though it’s against the law for teens to buy or consume alcohol, it’s still the most commonly used illegal substance for teens. Your teen may drive to a friend’s house with no intention of drinking alcohol, but then feel pressured by friends to drink.
A friend might say, “You won’t get drunk off one beer. You can still drive.” Or, “You don’t live that far away. Just drive on side streets, and you’ll be fine.” If your teen feels pressured to drink and drive, they can use the X-Plan to quietly get your help to get out of a tricky situation.
You may want to alter the plan for teens who drive, to prevent impaired driving. For example, texting one “X” means they’re sober, but they’re feeling pressured to drink, and need an exit strategy. So, you call and tell them they need to drive home right away.
However, if your teen does make a bad decision to drink and knows they should not get behind the wheel of a car, they could text you “XX.” That’s the signal to you that alcohol is involved, and they need a ride home immediately.
While you may be angry about picking up your drunk teen in the middle of the night, remember the trust it took for them to reach out for help. Car crashes are the number one cause of death for teens in the United States.
In 2017, 15 percent of teenage drivers who were involved in a deadly accident were legally drunk at the time of the crash. Asking for your help is a mature decision. They’re acknowledging that they’re in over their head, and they need your guidance.