Although prom season has come to an end locally, with graduation parties and summer vacation still to come, I’d like to make parents and the community aware an important new resource. The information below is excerpted from a press release sent out by Governor Cuomo on May 23:In May, Governor Cuomo announced that three state agencies launched an initiative to help curb impaired driving by underage youths and ensure that teenagers are aware of the extreme dangers of getting behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated.
The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) has teamed up with the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) and the New York State Police to promote the "It's Your Community, It's Your Call" hotline. The hotline encourages individuals to call 1-866-UNDER21 to report underage drinking, potentially helping stop young people from driving under the influence of alcohol. The hotline goes directly to State Police, who forward the call to the appropriate jurisdiction. The anonymity of callers is protected.
"All across New York State, our young people are celebrating the end of the school year, including attending proms and other celebrations with friends and family," Governor Cuomo said. "For our teenagers, who are just beginning their adult lives, never is it more important to make responsible decisions and follow the laws of the state which are designed to keep youth from tragic harm. This hotline will enable members of the community to keep an eye out and make sure that our young people are kept safe and avoid the devastating consequences that result from impaired driving."
Drivers under 21 represent about five percent of licensed drivers, but are involved in more than 12 percent of fatal crashes. In publicizing "It's Your Community, It's Your Call," the GTSC's traffic safety initiative has purchased radio and television spots as well as billboard ads to raise awareness and promote the hotline.
Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner and GTSC Chair Barbara J. Fiala said, "The season for proms and graduations can be a joyous time for teenagers and their families. Unfortunately, the partying that often surrounds these events can turn joy into tragedy when teens impaired by alcohol decide it's OK to drive. Underage drinking is a major concern and utilizing the hotline can head off potentially tragic situations when teenagers drive while impaired."
OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez said, "We know that half of all high school seniors in New York State have consumed alcohol. Prom and graduation season is a very exciting time of year for both students and parents. During this time of celebration, we must do everything possible to eliminate alcohol-related accidents among prom attendees and graduates with zero tolerance toward the consumption and possession of alcoholic beverages. You can help prevent a tragedy in your community by using the 1-866-UNDER21 hotline."
New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D'Amico said, "The New York State Police proudly join the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee and the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services in the continued effort to discourage, detect, and apprehend underage users of alcohol. With the school prom and graduation season upon us, the 1-866-UNDER21 hotline will serve as a means for concerned parents, friends and citizens to report the purchase or use of alcohol by minors, or the operation of motor vehicles by underage impaired drivers. Our communities must work with law enforcement to keep our young citizens safe by preventing underage drinking and its needless resulting tragedies."