Join efforts to prevent drunk and drugged driving

December 22, 2004

Dear Editor:

December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, a time when communities across the country join with the National 3D Prevention Month Coalition to conduct campaigns to prevent driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of youth ages 15 to 20 according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information. If you're the parent of a teen, it's likely that drunk and drugged driving is at the top of your list of concerns for your child. Many teens know someone who has been involved in or affected by a car crash with an impaired driver - a driver who had been drinking alcohol or using another drug that lowers the ability to drive safely. Sadly, some of those drivers are young people.

Here are some sobering statistics from Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Per mile driven, 16-year-old drivers have the highest rate of fatal crash involvement. In 2000, 2,339 youth died in alcohol-related crashes - accounting for more than one-third of all youth traffic deaths. Think of it this way - that's enough kids to fill more than 58 school buses. More than 60 percent of youth alcohol-related crash deaths occurred in rural areas - on roads where traffic isn't heavy.


Reducing alcohol-related traffic deaths is one of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's top concerns and here is what you can do to help.

* Tell your children that you do not want them getting into a car with someone who has had even one drink or who has been using illegal drugs. Marijuana and other illegal drugs can impair driving ability just as alcohol does.

* Help young people plan substance-free events. Visit the Web site "Have a Safe and Sober Holiday" for details.

* If you host parties for young people, do not allow them to drink alcohol or use drugs.

* Do not serve alcohol, even to college students.

* Check on your young guests often to make sure that no one is sneaking alcohol or other illegal substances into your home.

The legal consequences of allowing underage drinking and drug use in your home can be harsh, especially if a minor is injured or killed during the party or after leaving your house. Visit the Web site "Prosecuting Parents for Underage Drinking" for more information.

* Be a good role model. If you have been drinking, don't drive. We all know that young people learn by example - don't send mixed messages.

* Above all, tell your children that you want them to call you if they can't get a safe ride home from a party or other event. Stress to your children that you want them to call even if they have been drinking or using drugs. Assure them that, while you do not support this behavior, their safety is your first concern. Wait a day or so, and then talk with your child about what happened and what you expect in the future.

Setting rules about safe riding and driving, especially when alcohol and drugs are involved, will help you make the roads safer for everyone.

If you are interested in getting involved in our community's coalition to address underage drinking and impaired driving or other drug and youth-related issues, contact the Agency for Substance Abuse Policy at 236-2053 or the Drug Free Communities Support Program at 319-2588 or 239-8986.

We wish you a safe and happy holiday season.

Linda Dunne, Director

Drug Free Communities Support Program



Central Kentucky News Articles