Study: Nearly a third of high school students nationwide drink and drive

Posted by Howler Staff

Friday February 22, 2008

Three people died the morning of Jan. 18, when the Subaru WRX they were riding in slammed into a light pole at more than 100 mph on the corner of McCaslin Boulevard and West Cherry Street in Louisville. Michael Martin Flaherty, 21, Amber Dawn Kowalski, 23, and Lucas Raymond Snyder, 21, all died in the crash that captured the attention of MoHi administrators because all three victims were drinking, according to Louisville police.

Of the victims four children were left behind by the victims, including an unborn child. Assistant Principal Drew Adams said because high school students have minimal driving experience, whether under the influence of alcohol or not, they can often make poor decisions.

“I think the hardest thing for kids to understand, because of age, is that they lack the ability to make good judgment,” Adams said. “The challenge is that when you’re 16, 17 or 18, your experience with driving is minimal, and your level of experience works against you.”

According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, traffic crashes are the greatest single cause of death for those aged 6 to 33. About 45 percent of these fatalities occur in alcohol-related crashes.

Twenty-eight percent of 15 to 20-year-old drivers who were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2005 had been drinking. Within the past 30 days, 50 percent of high school seniors reported drinking, with 30 percent reporting being drunk at least once.

Also in the past 30 days, 28.5 percent of high school students nationwide had ridden one or more times in a car or other vehicle driven by someone who had been drinking alcohol.

Adams also suggested a plan for young students who may find themselves in a potentially dangerous situation involving drinking and driving. He said that if an arrangement were made between students and their parents, where a student could call his or her parent under any circumstance and not receive any punishment, it could be greatly beneficial in a risky situation.

“The most important thing is that you get home safely,” Adams said.

Colorado State Patrol Sgt. John Hahn said that drinking and driving is something he deals with everyday.

“Firstly, it’s against the law to operate a motorized vehicle when under the influence of alcohol,” Hahn said. “Drunk driving crashes that we see on a day to day basis are often those that result in serious injuries and fatal injuries as well.”

Junior Ryan Lemon is among many students that have taken notice of the McCaslin accident. Lemon said that he discourages the idea of drinking, let alone drinking and driving. “Just don’t do it,” Lemon said.

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