Don’t drink & drive

Each spring, tens of thousands of high school students celebrate graduation and prom season. These are joyous, coming-of-age milestones for teens.

Unfortunately, some of these celebrations will involve alcohol use by young adults who are sometimes too inexperienced to fully recognize the dangers posed by drinking and driving. Practically every spring is accompanied by sad reports of alcohol-involved vehicle crashes in which teens die or are seriously injured.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens. The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission reports that 109 drivers ages 16 to 20 were killed in vehicle crashes in 2007.

While 21 is the legal drinking age, drivers between the ages of 15 and 18 who were under the influence of alcohol were involved in 32 fatal crashes and 281 crashes that resulted in injuries in 2007.

Additionally, May was one of the deadliest months for drivers in 2007, with 92 people killed in crashes.

Every spring, law enforcement agencies, educators and others reach out to the public with messages warning of the dangers of drinking and driving – especially among teens. Driving while intoxicated is extremely dangerous for anybody, but especially so for teens who are less experienced behind the wheel.

Parents have a strong influence on their children’s behavior and should be especially watchful of their celebratory activities surrounding proms and graduation. Parties should be closely supervised and efforts should be made to ensure that alcohol is not consumed. Some parents have been known to take the attitude that teens are going to drink anyway, so they may as well do it at home – not a good idea. Under no circumstances should parents serve alcohol or allow it to be consumed by underage partygoers in their homes.

Finding a safe way to get prom and graduation partygoers to and from events is often a challenge for parents.

We support the efforts of the state Highway Safety Commission, educators, law enforcement agencies and groups such as MADD and SADD that work to reduce impaired driving among all citizens, including teens. We strongly encourage parents to speak to their teenagers about the dangers inherent in drinking and driving. It would be a true blessing to get through this prom and graduation season without having to report a single incident of a young man or woman being killed or injured in a traffic crash.