Our View: Support ORHS Operation Graduation

You’ve heard the stories before. A person gets into his car to drive home after having drinks with friends after work. Then there are the teenagers who pile into a Jeep after a night of drinking and partying. And don’t forget about the woman who’s taking allergy medicine and has to rush to school to pick up her kids.

Why is it that people get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or taking drugs? For some, it is the “I can handle it” attitude. For others, it’s that they’ve done it so often that they don’t care, or because they don’t think anything will happen, or because they doubt they’ll get caught. And still for others, it is that they are so out of it that they won’t even remember getting into their vehicles in the first place.

Three groups are most likely to commit this crime: underage drinkers between the ages of 15 and 20; individuals between ages 21 and 34; and chronic drunk drivers — folks who drive repeatedly after drinking, and often do so with high amounts of alcohol in their blood.

This is a highly complex problem, with difficult-to-implement and often ineffective solutions, that affects not only the Oak Ridge area, but every community across our country. While numerous legislative and educational efforts have successfully reduced the number of drunk-driving deaths nationwide, this is still a problem that touches our lives way too often.

You know that it’s only a matter of time before we see another one of those heart-wrenching stories of teenagers killed in a drunk driving accident. Here are a few sobering statistics about underage drinking, courtesy of MADD and the National Highway Safety Association:

  • Houston youth has the second highest rate of binge drinking at 25.6 percent among the top 15 metropolitan areas, and above the national average of 22.7 percent.
  • Alcohol is the number one choice of drugs among teens in America.
  • Alcohol kills more young people than all illicit drugs combined.
  • More than 6,000 youths age 15-20 die each year due to underage drinking-related consequences.
  • A national survey established that alcohol has been tried by approximately 40.5 percent of eighth graders, 61.5 percent of tenth graders, and 73 percent of twelfth graders.
  • In comparison, 47 percent of twelfth graders have smoked cigarettes, 42 percent have used marijuana and 8.5 percent have used cocaine.
  • Although young drivers make up a mere 6.3 percent of the total driving population in the US, they constitute 12.6 percent of the drivers involved in fatal crashes.
  • Statistics show that traffic deaths among teens during typical prom and graduation season weekends are higher than any other time of year.

I know everyone’s first reaction: “Well, yeah, but that’s not my kid”. Maybe so, but what about the kid they’re catching a ride with? You know them all and they’re good kids, too? Less likely, but OK. What about the kid that plowed into their car at 50 mph, because he never even saw the stop sign?

Support Oak Ridge High School’s Operation Graduation. We’ll never know how many lives it saves, but it’s probably better that way.

This article was originally published last year before the second annual ORHS Operation Graduation Poker Party. The tragedies that Operation Graduation aims to avert still lurk.

Comments to Our View at cbriese@oakridgenow.com.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

More Posts - Website