As a Kentucky State trooper, I see first-hand the destruction that underage drinking has on our youth. One of the hardest tasks for any law enforcement officer is to notify a parent that their teen has been fatally injured due to an alcohol-related circumstance.
In 2007, Kentucky law enforcement made 3,108 Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrests for persons between the ages of 16 and 19. In addition to those, there were 177 second offense, 20 third offense and 27 fourth offense DUI arrests in the commonwealth. There were 786 arrests for possession of alcohol by a minor. Sadly enough, 40 percent of Kentucky teens say they get their alcohol from a family member or their own home.
The 2006 Kentucky Incentives for Prevention (KIP) Survey indicated that 33 percent of high school seniors say they had been drunk in the past 30 days. Twenty-five percent indicated that they had participated in binge-drinking in the past two weeks. Nationally, 5,000 teens die each year from alcohol-related deaths.
Friday nights in Kentucky have become synonymous with high school football, stadium lights, marching bands and zealous fans. With that comes increased traffic and post game celebrations. In past years, the highest number of collisions occurred in September and October — specifically on Fridays during the evening hours. For this reason, Kentucky State Police will conduct the ‘Friday Night Blue Lights’ enforcement campaign that targets speed, seat belt and alcohol violations with an emphasis on underage drinking in and around football venues. In addition to road safety checks and saturation patrols in these areas, KSP will conduct educational programs in high schools and have a presence during high school football games. KSP is mailing out ‘Friday Night Blue Lights’ campaign information to Kentucky high schools to help promote safe driving and the prevention of underage drinking.
Many schools came on board last year with this program and we anticipate more will this football season. We ask that everyone be diligent in reporting impaired drivers and underage drinking. Most importantly, if you are a parent, please talk with your teen about the dangers of underage drinking. For more information about the ‘Friday Night Blue Lights’ program, please contact your local post.
KSP has established a toll free number that citizens can use to report impaired driving or underage drinking at (800) 222-5555.
Capt. John Bradley
KSP Post 10 Harlan