Congratulations to all our college and high school graduates. You have reached some important goals and should look forward to the next step in your life. It is a time of joy and celebration with families and friends. However, some celebrations may turn joy into tragedy when young people decide to celebrate with alcohol or drugs and then drive or participate in risky games.
Three New York state agencies: the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee, the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, and the New York State Police have teamed up to promote a new initiative called "It's Your Community, It's Your Call." The 24 hour hot-line number is 1-866-UNDER21 (1-866-863-3721). Anyone can call and anonymously report underage drinking to help keep the party from hitting the road.
According to statistics, most teen driving deaths occur during the days between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Mothers Against Drunk Driving calls this period "The 100 Deadliest Days" for teen drivers. In New York state, drivers younger than 21 represent only about 5 percent of the licensed drivers, but are involved in more than 12 percent of the fatal crashes.
Tips for families with young drivers:
Send them to driving school.
Establish a parent-teen driving agreement. Write an agreement with clear and enforceable rules between you and your youth.
Restrict night driving. Chances of deadly crashes double at night.
Limit passengers. Fatal crash rates for 16- to 19-year-olds increase five times when two or more teen passengers are present.
Make sure seat belts are used.
Eliminate trips without a purpose - no joy riding.
Be there if they need help, so they can call without being judged. They should never have to get in a car with a drunk driver.
Talk about alcohol use.
For more information, contact the HFM Prevention Council at www.hfmpreventioncouncil.com. For Fulton and Montgomery counties, the phone number is 736-8188. For Hamilton County, the number is 548-5710.
HFM Prevention Council