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2015 submissions from the top ten finalists

Essay Four

Drinking and driving is an incredibly serious issue that had a tragic impact on my community back in 2006. Deerfield, Illinois, is a wealthy, upper class neighborhood that is home to around 18,000 residents. After Deerfield High School’s annual homecoming dance on October 13,2006 , a family hosted approximately thirty teenagers for an after party and allowed underage drinking to occur, Later that night, three intoxicated teenagers decided to leave the party and were on their way home when they crashed into a tree at the end of the host’s driveway, resulting in the death of Ross Trace and Danny Bell, who were both only eighteen years old. This deadly event triggered the town of Deerfield to hold town meetings , assemblies, and forums on how to heal as a community and to prevent any further drinking and driving accidents . Today, however, the deaths of Ross Trace and Danny Bell are hardly talked about. The parents who hosted the party spent their time on probation and are now relocated to another state. The night of October 13 is a thing of the past, and little education is given to high school students about the risks of drinking and driving and I fear that a similar incident is bound to occur in my town or surrounding neighborhoods. The first step towards creating a safe environment is raising awareness in school and public work places. The only time drinking and driving has been talked about in my school was during my sophomore health class where we briefly discussed the negative effects of alcohol. This semester course is not enough to warn teenagers to not drink and drive and more vigorous action is required. It is up to high schools across the nation to educate their students on the dangers of drinking and driving through daytime assemblies, classroom curriculum, outside programs, counseling visits, guest speakers, and school sponsored clubs to help promote healthy choices with alcohol and driving.  A lot of learning also takes place outside of the classroom, and I would encourage  public libraries and recreation centers to hold meetings for teenagers and parents to learn more information about drinking and driving and what steps to take to prevent deadly accidents from continuing to happen. Drinking and driving doesn’t only apply to teenagers, it is also a constant presence in the world of adults. Workers should be required to attend annual meetings and seminars on the risks of drinking and driving to promote safety on and off the roads. In terms of myself, my friends and I have always made smart choices when it comes drinking and driving. We have all agreed to never get in a car with someone who has been drinking even if that means we have to wait outside in the cold or even walk home. My parents and I have come up with a code to use if I am ever at a party or event where drinking is going on and people are starting to get into cars. I simply would call my parents if I am in toxic situation and hint that I need them to come pick me up, avoiding any possible chance of getting in a car with an intoxicated minor. I am also a firm believer of saying no if someone believes they are okay to drive home even if they’ve had a couple of drinks, I have no problem taking my friends keys away from them to completely eliminate the possibility of them getting behind the wheel at any point during the night . Someone needs to be an up stander in these types of situations to prevent tragedies due to drinking and driving from happening and I am happy to take on that role. Unfortunately, many more drinking and driving accidents are bound to occur in the future. However, it is up to us, the youth of America and avid adults, to educate our nation on the risks of drinking and driving and encourage everyone to make smart choices when it comes to consuming alcohol and getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.

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