Thousands of high school and college students from Georgia will head for warmer climes as spring break arrives, at long last able to escape a long winter and the pressures of academia.
But it’s important for those taking part in the spring rites to be aware of the dangers of drinking and driving and binge drinking. That’s especially the case with underage drinking, since teen alcohol use claims some 4,700 lives a year, topping the deadly impact of illegal drugs nationwide.
Georgia reported 301 fatalities connected to DUI-related crashes in 2012. That was down from more than 400 deaths four years earlier, but a 9 percent increase from 2011, when Georgia recorded 31 under-21 fatalities related to drunk driving.
MADD encourages young people to make positive choices and set a solid foundation for their lives, rather than embarking on a week of beer drinking and the poor choices that can follow, including the temptation to drive while drunk.
The organization initiated its Power of You(th) program to help teenagers avoid alcohol and the danger of riding with a drunk driver. In part, it provides teens with some simple answers to resist offers to drink.
- In a natural tone, use one-liners such as, “It’s just not for me” or “It’s not what I want.”
- Give another option, “I’d rather have a soda.”
- Make excuses, including, “I have a test to study for tomorrow.”
- Offer a quick explanation, “I really just don’t like the taste.”
- Or change the subject and talk about school sports or activities.
MADD representatives went to the Georgia statehouse recently to lobby for legislation that would require ignition interlock devices in the vehicles of all DUI offenders, including those convicted of first offenses. Some states, such as Colorado, already allow DUI offenders to draw shorter license suspensions in exchange for putting ignition interlocks in their cars.
Despite the best efforts of MADD and other organizations, spring break remains a time of temptation when teenagers and young adults go on drinking binges that can lead to decisions with terrible and permanent consequences.
Spring break is a time to get away from the classroom and enjoy warm weather, but it can be done without spending the week getting intoxicated. MADD reminds teens that three out of four high school students don’t drink and that this dangerous habit can be avoided.
Those who choose to imbibe should do so in moderation, and should encourage those around them to do the same. Under no circumstances should anyone be allowed to get behind the wheel if there is any possibility that they might be intoxicated.