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Getting teens to think twice about drinking and driving

Pennsylvania parents may find that their teenagers don't listen as well as they would like, but where drinking and driving is concerned, it is imperative that the message gets through. Fortunately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tends to be very successful in making such messages memorable. The idea of friends not letting friends drive drunk is familiar, a campaign that the NHTSA organized. The agency also made inroads with young men through the messaging about buzzed driving being drunk driving. Together with the Ad Council, NHTSA will target underage drinking and driving with a new campaign.

Although today's teens might tune their parents out, they do pay close attention to social media and wireless devices. The NHTSA is banking on this as its latest campaign incorporates Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook along with a Tumblr website. Drinking and driving is being equated to a party foul, comparable to making missteps such as spilling a drink. The site will include an excuse generator to help teens deal with peer pressure as they refuse to drive drunk or ride with a drunk driver.

Much of the success of NHTSA's messaging can be attributed to the specific nature of each campaign. Although there are many driving behaviors that could be targeted, the organization hones in on one of great concern to achieve the best results possible. Underage drinking is a problem in spite of a legal drinking age of 21 in all states. Unfortunately, 25 percent of teen drivers involved in fatality wrecks are found to be under the influence of alcohol.

Auto accidents are the leading cause of teen deaths in the nation. A parent could face significant legal and financial problems if their teen drinks and drives. It is important to keep lines of communication open during the teen years to ensure that choices and consequences are a consideration when driving is involved.

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Gregory R. Gifford
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