Eye-Opening Wake-Up Call

Some high school seniors took part in a Every 15-Minutes community awareness program in their Kennewick high schools this week. It’s a program designed to visually communicate the severity of drinking and driving and alcohol related crashes as well as the impact it has on the community around them.

Killer Object Lesson

During the school day, the grim reaper comes into classrooms and removes one student volunteer every 15 minutes, symbolic of the true-to-life statistics of people dying in  alcohol-related traffic accidents across the country.

The student is then dressed in a black robe and their face painted white in order visually represent them as a deceased victim of a tragic DUI collision. It’s a dramatic lesson in the consequences of drinking and driving or even the current epidemic of texting and driving. It is an impressive lesson for teen drivers that gives them a “real-life” experience without the “real-life” consequences.

Students pretended to be accident victims during the emotional assembly that included calling parents and hypothetically notifying them of a child’s fatality, mourning their deaths and even planning their funerals.

Life Lessons

Car crashes are the leading cause of death among teen drivers in Washington state. That should be a wake-up call for everyone! The Kennewick Police Department, like so many other law enforcement agencies around the country, are taking many of their outreach programs into the schools to get teens more aware that the greatest safety risk comes from their own actions and choices.

The Every 15 Minutes program started over 20 years ago.  It’s been proven that a life is lost every 15 minutes due to alcohol related crashes.   With campaigns and awareness programs throughout the country, that time has, thankfully, now stretched to every 53 minutes. While that is a huge improvement, this risky behavior is still a major threat among this age group–and entirely preventable http://www.tri-cityherald.com/news/local/education/article204170134.html

Other Ways to Prevent Teen Drinking and Driving

Every state has laws and policies on the books regarding the minimum legal drinking age.  This includes some form of graduated licensing programs for teen drivers, and zero tolerance laws for minors. Efforts to lower the fatality risks of teens driving under the influence really comes together from many supportive avenues.

Here are some things that have worked:

  • Minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) laws in every state make it illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under age 21. Research has shown that enforcement of MLDA laws using alcohol retailer compliance checks has reduced retail sales of alcohol to those under the legal drinking age.
  • Zero tolerance laws in every state make it illegal for those under age 21 to drive after drinking any alcohol. Research has demonstrated that these laws have reduced drinking and driving crashes involving teens.
  • Graduated driver licensing (GDL) systems help new drivers get more experience under safer driving conditions. As teens move through stages, they gain privileges, such as driving at night or driving with passengers. Every state has GDL, but the specific rules vary. Research indicates that GDL systems prevent crashes and save lives.
  • Parental involvement–a focus on monitoring and restricting what new drivers are allowed to do, helps keep new drivers safe as they learn to drive. Parents should consider creating and signing a parent-teen driving agreement with their teens. Research has shown that when parents establish and enforce the “rules of the road”, new drivers report lower rates of risky driving, traffic violations, and crashes. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/teendrinkinganddriving/index.html

Parents of Teen Drivers

We all want to have faith and trust in our children, but being a parent goes much further than words and thoughts. Teens are watching and acting on these judgments to what they see trusted adults and their own parents doing. That’s why it is so important to model good driving behavior. Follow the rules of the road, and enforce your own rules and expectations with your kids.

But we also weren’t born yesterday. Having information and facts about what’s happening in this coming of age group is critical. If there was ever a time to take the blinders off, it’s now–especially when it comes to the well-being and safety of our kids. “Not my kid” is the wrong approach to dealing with the reality of teen influences and experiences. Check out: https://www.madd.org/statistics/.

Share these statistics with your teens and have a frank conversation with them. Who knows– it may literally make the difference between life and death. It won’t be easy–but who ever said being a parent would be!

You May Need a Personal Injury Attorney

If you have a teen driver, chances are you worry constantly about their safety. While the statistics can stack against them personally, safe driving is no accident.  Vulnerability on the road can come from inexperience and immaturity. Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or technology (yep…it’s a real thing) is the ultimate in unsafe driving behaviors.

Some of the hardest lessons in life come from loss and disappointment. Remind your teens that the “real-life” consequences sometimes last a lifetime and not just a day at school.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident caused by possible negligence or a driver under the influence (DUI), call Fielding Law Group today for a free consultation with a member of our legal team. Our auto accident attorneys work hard to get you the compensation and settlement you deserve so you can recover and get on with your life. Remember–Don’t let an accident wreck YOU!

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