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Displayed Mangled Car Aims to Stop Kids From Drinking and Driving PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alex Garcia Sun Contributing Writer   
Thursday, 14 June 2012 03:09


A crushed car sits at the entrance of Black and White Towing in Pacoima, as a reminder of the dangers of drinking and driving.

With June comes the high school graduation season, ditch day, end-of-the-year parties and, unfortunately, youngsters drinking and driving.

That's why, since 2009, a mangled car has been placed at the entrance of Black and White Towing, along San Fernando Road in Pacoima, hoping to illustrate the dangers of getting behind the wheel drunk.

"It's a visual impact of drunk driving," said Ruben Carrillo, operations manager for Black and White Towing. "This way, they can see the effects of driving drunk."

While every teenager is likely to have heard warnings not to drink from their families and at school, the totaled car delivers a message words cannot.

The windshield of the gray Dodge Intrepid is completely shattered and the driver's side of the car is smashed and pushed into the back seat. Looking at this car, it sends the powerful visual that drinking may have cost this driver his life.

"It's part of our annual public awareness campaign for kids," Carrillo said, noting that the car is usually displayed mid-March through August, in time for proms and graduation.

He said the Los Angeles Police Department Valley Traffic Division also use the car for their alcohol-prevention events and traffic fairs.

"They haul this thing around to schools all over the place," Carrillo said. "We pretty much got the idea from (police). We thought we could also make an impact because we get a lot of foot traffic."

Alcohol Consumption Among Teens

"Teenagers are constantly being persuaded to drink by deceptive Big Alcohol marketing practices. Each year teenage consumption of alcohol generates $20 billion in national revenues for Big Alcohol companies, according to a National Research Council & Institute of Medicine report," said Jorge Castillo, Advocacy and Outreach Organizer for Alcohol Justice, an alcohol industry watchdog organization.

"Town hall meetings like the one today can outline the first steps needed to address the dangers of alcohol in our communities. Then by working together we can limit both alcohol advertising and liquor outlet density and in turn provide healthier neighborhoods for our children," Castillo said.

"In terms of alcohol and other drugs consumption in the communities of Sylmar and Pacoima, we find that Alcohol was most available at parties (71%)," reported Olivia Chavez, alcohol program director of Pueblo y Salud (PYS), Inc. The nonprofit group, based in San Fernando organized a town hall meeting in early May titled "Parent's Awareness of Underage/Binge Drinking."

The results are based on the surveys conducted by PYS as part of the Los Angeles Public Health Substance Abuse Prevention, and Control Alcohol and other Drug Prevention Services Community-Based Needs Assessment.

Research indicates that families exert a great deal of influence on whether a child uses alcohol later in life. "What parents may not realize," Chavez said, "is that children say that their parents' disapproval of underage drinking is a key reason they have chosen not to drink."

Surveys also found that underage drinking is prevalent in high school students. Among eighth graders, about 1 in 20 (5.4 percent) reported being drunk at least once in the past month. Nearly one out of seven 10th graders (14.4 percent), and about two out of seven 12th graders, (27.6 percent) reported being drunk at least once in the last month, Chavez reported.

Safe & Sober Graduation

The DUI-crashed car in front of Black and White Towing is only one of the efforts to stop minors from drinking and driving.

Last month the Los Angeles Police Department, in conjunction with the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), began the 14th annual Safe & Sober Graduation Operation.

Between May 25 and June 26, an estimated 25,500 students will graduate from LAUSD high schools.

"In an attempt to reduce the availability of alcoholic beverages to underage individuals and thereby save lives, vice units will be conducting a series of minor decoy and decoy shoulder tap operations coinciding with high school graduations in their respective areas," according to a statement released by LAPD officials.

Minor decoy operations often involve young-looking officers or adolescents in the LAPD cadet program who attempt to purchase alcohol at liquor stores or other alcohol-selling establishments. Should tap operations involve the soliciting of individuals outside of stores to purchase an alcoholic beverage for a minor.

Last year, the Safe & Sober Graduation Operation resulted in the solicitation of 582 adults, with 47 violations. "Statistically, 92 percent of all adults approached refused the minor decoys' request for alcohol," the LAPD statement said. "Additionally, 167 licensed ABC locations within close proximity of local high schools and colleges were inspected via the minor decoy program, which resulted in 26 clerks being cited for selling alcoholic beverages to underage individuals (representing an 84 percent compliance rate)."

Individuals convicted of providing alcohol to a minor face a mandatory $1000 fine and 24 hours of community service.

The idea of all these efforts is simply stop teenagers from getting behind the wheel drunk and getting hurt or worse.

"We want to show them that people die (when they drink and drive)," Carrillo said. He added teens that pass by their display of the mangled car after school often stop to look at it. Adults who come to retrieve cars also pause and ask questions about the car, as well.

And that's precisely the point, because that may make them think twice before drinking and getting in the driver's seat.

"If we can save a life, it's worth it," Carrillo said.

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 June 2012 23:14

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