Utah Intensifies Teen Safety Programs

November 27, 2007

Today, Utah communities intensified campaigns to keep our kids safe with a pair of messages that translate into saved lives.

State statistics show underage binge drinking now begins in the sixth grade. That’s a real threat to our youth. So are car crashes, which kill more than one Utah teen each week.

Two separate campaigns are taking a new approach to drive the messages home.

There are already spots airing that tackle underage drinking. Get ready to see more of them.

Parentsempowered.org wants you to learn the facts about the dangers of underage drinking and share them with your kids. “The one statistic that sticks out in my mind is that 31 percent of our young people today are going to be drunk this weekend. Their parents don’t believe they’re drinking at all,” Lt. Gov. Gary Hebert said.

It’s a public/private partnership that gets all aspects of the community involved. You’ll even see the message rolling through your neighborhood on the side of garbage trucks.

“As parents, I think we have got to understand more about the perils of underage drinking, and I don’t think we do,” explained Bill Nelson, CEO of Intermountain Healthcare.

In Roy, the Utah Safety Council launched its first school-based “Alive at 25” course. The council used 85 of the students, representative of the number of teen drivers or passengers killed in Utah last year.

Student officers took the course and say it caught their attention. “The biggest thing was the pain and suffering affects so many lives of the kids that get in these accidents,” Roy High School Student Body President Justin Berry said.

This “survival course” is four and a half hours long and is taught by law enforcement. The program focuses on the consequences of decisions of young drivers. “At the moment of an accident, when there’s significant injury or death, lives change, and they never get back to where they could have been,” Roy City Police Chief Greg Whinham said.

“Alive at 25” should be in four more high schools soon. Colorado cut its teen fatality rate 50 percent after establishing the program statewide.