Garbage trucks to trash teen drinking

December 1, 2009

A fleet of 75 garbage trucks plastered with messages that underage drinking is well, garbage, was unveiled Tuesday by local government officials and a parents’ advocacy group hoping to mobilize communities to eliminate it.

The rolling billboards will travel nearly 3 million miles and will visit almost 18 million households along ACE Disposal’s trash pick-up routes in the Salt Lake area as part of a public-awareness campaign to remind parents and teens to stay away from alcohol.

“Utah is united in the effort to get the word out that underage drinking is harmful and not just a simple rite of passage,” Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker said at the Tuesday unveiling.

Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon urged parents and the community to make a critical difference “by talking to our kids about alcohol and staying involved in their lives.” The campaign is the latest in a joint city and county proclamation made in April 2006 to prevent underage drinking and teach parents how to talk to their teens about alcohol.

ParentsEmpowered, a teen-drinking-prevention group, organized the campaign. Despite Utah’s low incidence of teen drinking compared to other states, about 4,000 teens a month face alcohol-possession charges in juvenile court.

Parents often say they are surprised that their children have been trying or using alcohol, said spokeswoman Sherri Clark.

“Involvement in children’s lives in all aspects, including the parents’ expectations about alcohol, need to be stated clearly and directly,” she said, “just like they set expectations for performance in school and behavior in general.”