Arizona High Schools Take Proactive Approach to Drunk-Driving Education

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Arizona educators and safety organizations are taking proactive approaches to teaching teenagers about the dangers of driving under the influence.

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As prom season descends on thousands of Arizona high-school students, Arizona educators and safety organizations are taking proactive approaches to teaching teenagers about the dangers of driving under the influence. The city of Glendale partnered with several area high schools to set up mock-crash assemblies entitled Operation Prom and Beyond to show students the potential consequences of drunk driving.

With the cooperation of the Glendale Fire and Police Departments, school officials gave students firsthand looks at dangers of driving while under the influence. Students sat in football-field bleachers and watched as firefighters and police officers helped accident victims, played by student actors, out of damaged vehicles, investigated the scenes and made arrests.

Students also heard from parents and friends affected by the losses of loved ones from drunk driving.

The city of Glendale reports that fatal crashes have declined over the years, but officials want to ensure that students have the right information to make healthy and safe choices for upcoming prom and graduation events.

Arizona officials believe that these presentations have had great impact on students and prom season is the perfect time to remind them of smart habits.

Statistics Don't Lie

In 2007, Arizona experienced 952 fatal car accidents. Teenagers (aged 15 to 19) accounted for over 10 percent of all people killed in 2007 Arizona motor-vehicle collisions. Glendale officials report that there were 13 fatal crashes in the city during 2008. Of those, 23 percent were alcohol related, 30 percent drug related and 30 percent speed related.

According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), car accidents are now the leading cause of death for teenagers in the U.S. The CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) estimates that more than one-third of teen fatalities are from car accidents.

Furthermore, the CDC reports that 78 percent of all unintentional deaths involving 12 to 19 year olds are caused by car accidents, which now account for 48 percent of all teenage deaths in the U.S. On average, 16,375 youth (12 to 19) died annually in automobile accidents from1999 to 2006.

Many other states have established similar educational programs to educate students about drunk driving. Most programs have been successful in reducing the amount of teenage DUI accidents in their communities; however, officials encourage combining these programs with other teenage driver trainings to help teens become safe drivers in high school and beyond.

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