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The NHTSA targets underage drinking and driving

Parents have good reason to be concerned about the decisions that their children make on Pennsylvania roads. On a national level, motor vehicle accidents lead in causing teen deaths. Approximately half of the teenagers who die in such accidents are the drivers, and nearly 25 percent of teen drivers involved in fatality accidents test positive for alcohol in their systems. Peer pressure may be a factor causing young people to drive after consuming alcoholic beverages, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is tackling this issue as it launches a new public service effort.

The NHTSA has had excellent results in prior efforts to reduce drinking and driving numbers through public service campaigns. The focus on buzzed driving, for example, resulted in a 9 percent increase in young men reporting their use of alternative transportation after consuming alcohol. The organization will tackle the teen drinking and driving issue by comparing driving while impaired to party blunders, implying that drinking and driving is the ultimate blunder. The emphasis on long-term outcomes and serious consequences will hopefully cause teens to think twice and find alternative transportation.

In equipping young people with tools for resisting peer pressure, the NHTSA has developed an excuse generator. Additionally, specialty apps and emoji keyboards will be used to appeal to the tech-driven interests of young people. The strong focus on drinking and driving does not negate efforts to continue to reduce other teen driving issues such as texting and driving, but the alcohol-related campaign will hopefully equip young people for a lifetime of safe and sensible driving.

Drunk driving accidents can result in catastrophic injuries, which could cost young people their futures or even their lives. Families could face serious legal consequences even while dealing with the loss of a child who has driven while intoxicated. A concerted effort on many levels may protect more families from these tragic outcomes.

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