High school graduation time in Columbiana County is upon us once again.
Beginning today with the American Spirit Academy in East Liverpool, and followed by Columbiana, Crestview and Leetonia high schools on Sunday, graduation season officially kicks off. That means this weekend and the next four weekends will be a time for parties, picnics and leaving the carefree life of high school behind.
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 2008, 11 people were killed in Ohio traffic crashes during this holiday weekend. In at least five of those accidents alcohol was involved. In 2007, an estimated 12,998 people nationwide died in alcohol-impaired traffic crashes involving a driver with an illegal blood alcohol concentration of .08 or greater. These deaths comprise 31.7 percent of the 41,059 total traffic fatalities in 2007.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is calling on Americans to be safe and sober drivers and is reminding adults to designate non-drinking drivers before celebrations begin. In addition, the organization is offering a Safe Party Guide on its Web site at www.madd.org.
Here are MADD's tips for throwing a safe party:
* 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.
* Never serve alcohol to anyone under the legal drinking age of 21.
* 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 automobiles don't mix well. Let's make sure we're all still here and have much more to celebrate on Tuesday.