Drunk driving continues to be a major public safety hazard nationwide. And when inexperienced teen drivers are behind the wheel, the problem is magnified.

Unfortunately, underage drinking and driving is all too prevalent. Nearly a quarter of American high school students said that in the past 30 days, they had ridden with a driver who had been drinking alcohol, according to the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

While parents can play an active role in helping prevent their kids from dangerous behaviors like drunk driving, they can’t be everywhere at once. Luckily, new technologies are making it easier for communities to stop this life-threatening problem in its tracks while kids are out of the house.

For example, barZapp, an ID verification mobile app, allows users to use their smartphone to quickly verify the authenticity of an ID card, making it easier for bars and restaurants to protect their patrons. Users aim a smartphone at the barcode on a driver’s license to instantly read and verify the encoded information and display the results — including the bearer’s name, date of birth, height, weight, eye color, hair color, gender, issue date, expiration date, issuing jurisdiction and ID number.

“When lives are at stake, a bartender or server should not have to rely solely on a hunch,” says Dr. Nelson Ludlow, the CEO of Intellicheck Mobilisa, the technology company behind the barZapp app. “It’s a low-cost solution for establishments to deter underage drinking, so you can expect to see more and more venues adopting this technology.”

More information about this potentially life-saving technology can be found at www.icmobil.com.

So what can parents do to protect their kids from themselves? Being involved in your kids’ lives is crucial. Here are some ways to become more vigilant:

• Ask questions: When kids are heading out the door to meet with friends, be sure to ask plenty of questions. Where are you going? Who will be there? When will you be home?

• Set a curfew: Even on weekends, a curfew is important. Parents can rest easy when they know they can expect kids to return home at a certain time.

• Meet friends: Get to know your children’s friends and their parents. Encourage them to spend time with friends who are responsible and mature.

• Plan activities: Binge drinking and boredom go hand in hand. Provide alternative sources of fun for your kids so they won’t turn to drinking for lack of anything better to do.

It’s no secret that teenagers are prone to make bad decisions. But parents can play influential roles in helping kids make smarter choices. 



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