Some tips for keeping graduation season safe

High school graduation time is upon us once again in Columbiana County.

It began Friday with Southern Local and Beaver Local, followed by East Palestine on Saturday.

Today, graduation season kicks into full gear when students from Columbiana, Crestview, East Liverpool, Leetonia, Lisbon, Salem, Sebring, United and Wellsville don their caps and gowns.

That means this weekend and the next three weekends will be a time for parties celebrating the end of the carefree life of high school.

Oftentimes, however, the celebrations brought about by these momentous occasions, along with Memorial Day this weekend, make these the deadliest times on area roads. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rank Memorial Day weekend as one of the deadliest holidays for alcohol-related traffic deaths.

In 2012, 11 people were killed in Ohio traffic crashes during this holiday weekend.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), in 2011, 161 people were killed nationwide in drunk driving crashes over Memorial Day weekend (6 p.m. Friday through 5:59 a.m. Tuesday). These deaths accounted for 40 percent of all highway fatalities during the time period, compared to an average of 31 percent for the year as a whole. MADD is calling on Americans to be safe and sober drivers and is reminding adults to designate non-drinking drivers before celebrations begin.

Ohio’s Investigative Unit is also reminding parents who are hosting a party for their child’s friends to be aware that in the state of Ohio, parents cannot give alcohol to children who are under 21, even with the other parents’ permission. Parents also cannot allow minors to consume alcohol in their home.

Anyone convicted of attempting to purchase alcohol as a minor, sharing in the cost, using false identification or furnishing alcohol to a minor may face a maximum sentence of six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

MADD is offering a Safe Party Guide on its website at

Here are MADD’s tips for throwing a safe party for those who are of legal drinking age:

  • Have plenty of non-alcoholic drinks on hand.
  • Plan activities like party games to engage people and help decrease consumption of alcohol.
  • Provide plenty of food to make sure guests don’t drink on an empty stomach.
  • Designate a bartender; don’t let guests mix their own drinks.
  • Don’t rely on coffee to sober up guests; only time will do that.

Remember, alcohol isn’t a required ingredient in the recipe for a successful party. And, keep in mind too, that alcohol and motor vehicles don’t mix well.

To all of the graduates congratulations, but to the grads and holiday revelers, celebrate safely.

Let’s hope we’re all here with much more to celebrate on Tuesday.