Narconon International Urges U.S. Teens and Their Parents to Demand Zero Tolerance of Alcohol as Top Priority for Driver Safety

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Underage drinking in the spotlight for the next few days with the National Teen Driver Safety Week.

As U.S. National Teen Driver Safety Week approaches 16 – 22 October, Narconon International Senior Drug Education Expert, Bobby Wiggins, reminds us that teens are at far greater risk of death in an alcohol-related crash than the overall population. The irony is that allowing teens to purchase or publicly possess alcohol is illegal in all states, making any instance of a teen driving under the influence of alcohol a secondary crime to the original crime allowing the teen access to alcohol.

“Whatever actions we take to educate new drivers, whatever programs are organized that graduate teen drivers so they become responsible operators of vehicles, if we don’t address the devastating outcome of driving under the influence of alcohol, teens will continue to become traffic fatalities at a rate that outstrips the general society,” says Wiggins.

Part of the problem is parents who consider that alcohol is the acceptable addiction. Beginning in 2008, the National Highway Traffic Administration began focusing their efforts to stop alcohol getting into the hands of teens by launching campaigns to knock out parental attitudes leading to teens having access to alcohol. Some parents in efforts to keep their teens at home, host house parties where parents supply the alcohol. In doing so, they are culpable by law for any consequence of doing so, including vehicular homicide.

“Many parents are still oblivious to the dangers they put their teen children in when they allow them access to alcohol. When they turn a blind eye to parties where alcohol is available, they risk being wakened from sleep to tragic consequences that they will never be able to set right,” added Wiggins.

Case in point as reported in the Douglas County Sentinel is the seventeen year old son of a Georgia couple was sentenced to 15 years in prison for causing the death of a 16 year old passenger in his car. He survived when he flipped the Chevy Blazer several times before it crashed into a U-Haul trailer, but his friend did not. Authorities also charged 10 people with helping to supply alcohol at two parties the teens attended prior to the crash.

According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTA) teens are at far greater risk of death in an alcohol-related crash than the overall population, despite the fact that they are below the minimum drinking age in every State. Among 15- to 20-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2006, 31 percent of the drivers who were killed had been drinking and 77 percent of these drivers were unrestrained.

The California Administrative Office of the Courts reports that car crashes are the No. 1 killer of teens in the U.S; Teens are four times more likely to die or be injured in a car crash than older people.

During 2006, 7,643, 15 to 20 year-old drivers and motorcycle operators were involved in fatal traffic crashes of which 1,377 (18%) had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that alcohol generally affects the central nervous system and in large enough quantities can create alcohol poisoning.

“Couple the physical effects of alcohol with impaired judgment and sheer lack of driving experience, when a teen that has been drinking gets behind the wheel of a car they are an accident waiting to happen. One of the most important steps any parent can take is to take a stance of zero tolerance when it comes to underage drinking. They will have help. The law is totally on their side,” says Wiggins.

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Clark Carr
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