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Editorial: Discussion Necessary to Ensure Safety

Reducing drug-and-alcohol-related fatalities.

The pages and covers of most of this week’s Connection Newspapers including the Gazette Packet show the joy and accomplishment associated with high school graduation. The day celebrates graduates who accomplished much just by finishing, graduates headed to college and more.

Most area high schools also celebrate with an all-night graduation party, an event designed and coordinated by parents to provide graduates with safe and appealing fun, with many schools organizing an annual party for more than 20 years.

It was, for example, the 25th annual All Night Drug and Alcohol-Free Graduation Celebration for T.C. Williams High School when the class of 2013 held its party on Saturday, June 15. Since 1989, when this tradition began at T.C. Williams, there have been no drug or alcohol-related graduation night fatalities.

Herndon High School parents have been providing a memorable evening for our graduates in an alcohol and drug free atmosphere for more than 20 years, and report that, “since the All Night Grad Celebrations began, we are happy to say there have been no alcohol or drug related fatalities on graduation night.”

Summer is the beginning of many celebrations for young people in this area, and many of them, whether underage and over 21, admit that they celebrate with alcohol. Chances are that if your household includes a high school student, that student sometimes consumes alcohol. Graduation night is not the only danger lurking, as everyone knows.

All night graduation parties provide not only a safe place on graduation night, but also many opportunities before and after to talk about drinking and driving. There is no substitute for parents talking to their children about drinking, no matter how awkward, no matter how many eye-rolls you must endure. Driving while under the influence, or getting into a car as a passenger with someone who is impaired, is not the only danger of drinking, but it is one of the most avoidable.

On graduation day in 2007, West Potomac High School endured the unimaginable tragedy. Two young women who had graduated just hours before died in a car driven by another young woman who had alcohol in her system. The driver and another passenger, a 2005 West Potomac graduate, also died in that crash.

If you’ve successfully raised a teenager through high school graduation, it is unbearable to think of losing him or her now. Talk. Tell them you love them. Tell them it’s been way too much trouble to get to this point to risk losing them now. Tell them that you will come and get them, without consequences, any time they need a ride to avoid getting in a car with someone who has been drinking and/or otherwise under the influence. Look them in the eyes. Say the words.

For Adults Who Need a Reminder

Washington Regional Alcohol Program will provide free rides for those over 21 who find themselves out celebrating on the Fourth of July without a safe ride home.

The 2013 Independence Day SoberRide program will be offered from 10 p.m. Thursday, July 4 until 4 a.m. Friday, July 5.

To receive a free cab ride home (up to a $30.00 fare), please call 800-200-8294 (TAXI). You must be 21 or older to use the SoberRide service.

WRAP's SoberRide has helped to ensure greater Washington, D.C. residents have a safe way home on high-risk holidays. Since 1993, WRAP has provided over 57,990 safe rides home, keeping impaired drivers off the road.

SoberRide operates during the December/January holiday season, St. Patrick's Day, Independence Day and Halloween.

See http://wrap.org/soberride