Everyone must work together for safety
Citizens of southern Leavenworth County cannot let down their guard when it comes to underage drinking.
According to Kansas Department of Transportation Statistics, in 1999, 493 people lost their lives on Kansas roadways. In 34 percent of those fatalities, alcohol was involved. and of those 34 deaths, 21 were less than 20 years of age.
A recent survey of Kansas high school students showed that two out of three students have drunk alcohol. Moreover, 47 percent of the students polled said they had attended at least one underage drinking party during the previous six months.
In 1997, the Kansas Legislature passed the "Zero Tolerance" law which makes it illegal for anyone under 21 to operate a motor vehicle when they have a blood alcohol content of .02 or more.
The laws were strengthened in 1999, so that now a first offense results in suspension of driving privileges for one year.
The laws may be tough. But laws don't insure that drunken drivers won't take to the highways.
Organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Students Against Destructive Decisions have worked to raise awareness. But still, it's human nature to think "just this short drive home" or "just one more drink" isn't going to hurt anyone.
It usually takes a tragedy to make teens realize their vulnerability.
Let's work together, citizens with citizens, parents with parents, friends with friends, to do all we can to effectively ensure our teens won't drink, and further, that if they happen to drink in spite of preventive measures, that they don't drive.
One life lost is one too many.
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