Saturday, May 25, 2013
Education Key Tool in Battling Impaired Driving
Schools and teachers educate young people on dangers
The city of Anchorage says half of all traffic fatalities in Alaska involve alcohol – this is well above the national average. So what is being done to educate young people about the consequences of drinking and driving?
One city prosecutor says education is a key tool to bring down the number of drivers that police catch impaired while driving.
Last week we brought you a behind-the-scenes look at drunk driving in Anchorage. And Tuesday we spoke with teachers and students to find out what is being done to get the message through to young people.
When you drink and drive, the results can ruin your life and the lives of others.
“By the time you get caught, the national statistic is that you have driven impaired at least 88 times,” says Jennifer Messick, the prosecutor.
Are the messages about driving while impaired getting through to young people – before they make mistakes?
Messick helps to educate high school students about the consequences. “We talk about what happens when you get caught, what happens when you get arrested, what happens when you get convicted and how a DUI conviction stays with you for your entire life.”
The course is called IMPACT, which stands for “Individuals Making Positive Action Choices Today,” and it’s in its second year at South, Dimond, East and Chugiak High Schools.
Students who take the class use creative media to tell their peers about the dangers of drinking. The program is a health elective, and funded by a grant, but teachers hope it can become a permanent part of the curriculum.
Teachers say the key is not to lecture students, but to give them the facts about drinking alcohol so they can make their own choices. And students say the message is getting through.
Teachers at Dimond say even though kids will experiment, they hope by giving hard facts about drinking and taking drugs they’ll one day save their life or the lives of their friends. The U.S. is one of only six countries in the world that has a .08 blood alcohol limit – all other countries have lower limits.
Messick – the traffic safety prosecutor for Anchorage – says she sees many people during the holiday season leaving parties and trying to rationalize that they’re okay to drive. But her message is, if you are trying to rationalize, you should find another way to get home.