These are the words of Capt. W.G. Campbell who supervises the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Unit.
We have already published this quote in a news story. By repeating it in today’s editorial, it is not our intent to use it as a scare tactic.
But it is our purpose to point to stark reality.
Schools within our Cleveland and Bradley County community are in the middle of prom season. Graduations are just around the corner.
With each festive occasion, both of which are huge moments in the lives of our teenagers, comes the temptation to commit careless acts while behind the wheel of moving vehicles.
We speak of underage drinking of alcohol.
We speak of distracted driving through use of cellphones, texting, tinkering with the radio or CD player, or paying more attention to conversation with friends than keeping eyes on the road.
We speak of allowing the lightheartedness of the moment to influence driver decisions resulting in speeding, reckless behavior or even pressing the accelerator to beat a yellow signal instead of slowing in order to stop.
All are real and present dangers. Each happens on any day or night of the year, and such antics are not limited to our teens. But prom night and graduation celebrations seem to spawn greater opportunity among our beloved young people.
For these reasons, we urge parents to be proactive. We don’t encourage brow-beating, but we do ask moms and dads to take ownership of their children’s behavior during these special times.
Here are some suggestions for parents as provided by the Tennessee Department of Public Health, and the U.S. Department of Safety and Homeland Security:
1. Be aware of your son’s or daughter’s plans for the evening, including locations where they can be found, and the times.
2. Have contact information, including phone numbers and street addresses.
3. Be at home when your teens leave and don’t go to bed until their safe return.
4. Talk candidly to your celebrating children about sex, alcohol and drugs; this is because prom night and graduation parties are peer pressure breeding grounds.
5. Don’t talk down to your teen or lecture with scare tactics. Instead, take the approach, “I know you already know this, but I want you to be safe and have fun, so ...”
6. Assure your son or daughter it’s OK to feel uncomfortable in some situations even when in the company of friends. If this occurs, develop a plan for your teen to call home and for you to go get them.
7. Be familiar with your children’s travel routes; be open in suggesting alternates that have less traffic congestion and fewer danger zones.
8. Remind your teen of the dangers of distracted driving; the most common threat among young drivers is texting while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.
9. Encourage your teen to be a good friend. Good friends don’t expose friends to risk.
10. Remind your youngsters about being careful in accepting beverages from others, even friends.
11. Know the location of after-prom or graduation parties, if they are adult-supervised and the time they will end.
12. Urge your teens to stay in touch via cellphone — talking or texting — but NOT while they are driving.
And when your beautiful daughters or handsome young sons roll their eyes at your reminders of safety, give them a warm, slow hug while explaining, “It’s because I love you.”
Fewer hearts are broken when more minds are engaged.
Proms and graduations have a history as the good times in life. Let us not rewrite it through unspoken words and careless deeds.