Safe Graduation: Serve kids - serve time
While thousands of seniors prepare to graduate across Idaho in the coming weeks, in a few communities there will be an empty seat, a diploma that won’t be received, a promising future that was cut short.
These are the teen-age victims of alcohol-involved crashes. In the 10 years from 1995 to 2004, 117 Idaho teen-agers between 16 and 20 years old died in alcohol-related traffic crashes.
Nine of those died just last year, with more than 100 more injured in alcohol-involved crashes. With graduation marking the beginning of the summer, we are also entering the “deadly season” on Idaho highways. Thirty-six percent of all alcohol-involved crashes traditionally occur during the months of May-August and 46 percent of teen alcohol-involved traffic fatalities occur during those same months.
The Idaho State Police Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Division is teaming this summer with the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections and Idaho Transportation Department's Office of Traffic and Highway Safety to target the problem of underage drinking. The first part of the campaign consists of a radio and television ad blitz targeted at graduating seniors.
The "Project Safe Graduation" spots were created last year and recently were awarded regional honors by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.
The announcements will air statewide during the peak of the graduation season through the end of May and into early June.
New this year will be another campaign targeted at those who would dispense or otherwise provide alcohol to underage drinkers.
"Serve Kids – Serve Time" is the message of a billboard campaign that will appear across the state this summer. The stark billboard, which pictures a set of handcuffs dangling from the neck of a beer bottle, reminds anyone who provides alcohol to minors, including private citizens who might be tempted to provide alcohol as a "favor" to and underage youth, that Idaho law provides stiff penalties, including jail time, for such an offense.
"We are entering the traditional season of 'keggers,' other graduation celebrations involving alcohol, and the dangerous summer driving season when we perennially see a rise in alcohol-involved crashes," said ISP Alcohol Beverage Control Chief, Lt. Bob Clements.
''Project Safe Graduation' and 'Serve Kids – Serve Time' are intended to reach both underage youth who are tempted to drink as well as those who aid in their doing so," he said.
A May 13 news conference in Meridian included a number of presentations designed to protect teenagers. Agenda items included: