Editorial: AAA program an added benefit to keep kids from drinking and driving

May. 21, 2013 @ 11:18 PM

More than one-third of youth under the age of 21 killed in alcohol-related fatalities died during the months of April, May and June — prom and graduation season. That's according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It's p to responsible adults to do all they can to stop such senseless carnage.

AAA is trying to do its part. The agency is encouraging parents to speak with their teens before graduation to discuss a plan for a safe ride home should they find themselves in a difficult situation or having to rely on a friend who may be intoxicated. In May, more than 15 Knoxville-area high schools are hosting graduations, and parents should have a plan to get their teen home safely if they should get a call that their teen needs assistance, AAA says. That is good advice, if only parents will follow through on it.

Parents may feel that when their children reach a certain age they stop taking advice from then. Not so. teenagers need their parents just as much as little ones do, only in different ways. A heart-to-heart chat about celebrating graduation and how to avoid excess will penetrate even the most stubborn kid's psyche.

AAA is offering "AAA PROMise" during graduation season. If a teen can’t get home safely, they are encouraged to call their parents for a safe ride home. Their parents can call 800-AAA-HELP for a free tow home of the family vehicle, when they are members or not.

“We want parents, high schools, teachers, law enforcement, and young drivers to know that AAA is working to help prevent underage drinking,” said Gerry Gutowski, senior vice president, Automotive Services, The Auto Club Group. “If a teen contacts their parent to get a safe ride home on graduation night, AAA will tow home the extra car from the scene.”

In 2011, the Auto Club Group Traffic Safety Foundation piloted the ‘AAA PROMise’ program in Tampa, Fla. The program has since expanded and is now available in the Knoxville area. It is a nice service to offer to encourage families, especially young ones, to avoid getting themselves into risky and potentially dangerous situations.