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Teen drunk driving focus of Virginia community forums

Parents and teens in one Virginia locale are turning their attention to young peoples' drinking and driving habits. In Fairfax County, the first of several community forums took place on October 2, with a focus on educating to prevent drunk driving accidents.

The forums are the result of efforts by the Unified Prevention Coalition of Fairfax County, one of 13 groups across the state that tries to lower the number of teenaged drunk drivers on the road.

The coalition also tries to measure community members' perceptions of teenage drunk driving, posing questions such as "where are young people getting alcohol?" and "what's driving underage drinking?"

One parent, whose teenager attends West Potomac High, said he attended one of the forums because he didn't want his son to learn the hard way about drinking and driving.

During the past five years, drunk drivers between the ages of 15 and 24 caused almost 1,900 car crashes in Fairfax County.

Interestingly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have announced a drop in the levels of teenage drunk driving since 1991.

The CDC's surveys, however, were based on high school students who admitted to committing the dangerous act, rather than actual crash data. In addition, the surveys did not question students in all 50 states, and did not account for those younger than 16 who get behind the wheel intoxicated.

The CDC noted that any drop in the level of teens' drunk driving can likely be credited to local laws, in particular teenage curfew requirements.

In Virginia, drivers under 18 are prohibited from driving between midnight and 4 a.m., except in emergencies or driving to or from work.

Source: WJLA, "Teen drunk driving down 54 percent." Jenny Doren, Oct. 2, 2012

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