MADD urges teens to decline alcoholic drinks

As Colorado students head off on spring break, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers is encouraging them to find the fortitude to avoid drinking and driving.

MADD reports that teenage drinking kills 4,700 people annually, more than the use of all drugs combined. Students can set a foundation for themselves by staying on a “positive path” rather than traveling down a road of drug and alcohol use, MADD says.

Car accidents involving drunk drivers account for more than 25 percent of all traffic fatalities in Colorado, about the same proportion as the rest of the nation, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Colorado recorded 133 fatalities related to alcohol-impaired driving in 2012, a decrease from 160 the previous year.

In a 2014 report on its campaign against drunk driving, MADD gave Colorado its highest rating of five stars. Specifically, it applauded the state for giving DUI offenders the incentive of shorter license suspensions for placing ignition interlocks in their vehicles. MADD also pointed to efforts such as sobriety checkpoints.

Overcoming peer pressure is one of the hardest challenges a young person will ever face, especially when it comes to taking that first drink of alcohol. MADD started its Power of You(th) program to encourage teens to avoid drinking and to stay out of cars with people who have been drinking.

Here are some answers MADD says teens can use to resist temptation without making a big deal of it. The organization encourages them to practice saying them in a “natural tone.”

  • Use one-liners such as, “It’s just not for me” or “It’s not what I want.” Better yet, “I don’t drink” or simply “No thanks.”
  • Try giving another option: “I’d rather have soda.”
  • Sometimes excuses work, such as “I have a test to study for tomorrow.”
  • An explanation is helpful, “I really just don’t like the taste.”
  • Or try changing to subject by talking about a ball game or school activity.

When spring break arrives, it’s harder than ever for high school and college students to avoid the dangers of binge drinking and driving. It’s natural for students who have been under academic pressure to want to blow off steam. For some, it’s considered a rite of passage to travel to warmer climes and get wasted playing drinking games.

But that type of behavior can lead to death and life-changing injuries from DUI crashes. Think about the consequences before endangering your life and others.

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