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NHTSA and Ad Council target underage drunk driving

New York residents likely recall successful road safety campaigns that warned of the dangers of buzzed driving and allowing friends to drive drunk. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Ad Council announced a new campaign on Oct. 19 designed to draw attention to underage drinking and driving. Road traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for American teens, and it is hoped that the campaign will educate young drivers and their parents about the dangers of getting behind the wheel after drinking or using drugs.

According to the NHTSA, about a quarter of the teen drivers involved in fatal car accidents each year had been drinking even though all 50 states have established a legal drinking age of 21. The campaign's public service announcements compare drinking and driving with other party mishaps such as falling over or spilling drinks. The television spots will be supplemented with billboards and online banner advertising.

NHTSA and the Ad Council have also set up a Tumblr website to provide young drivers with information about the dangers of drunk driving and the consequences that a DWI conviction could have on their futures. A novel feature of the website is an excuse generator designed to provide teens with things to say when their friends encourage them to drink and drive. The campaign will be supported by regular posts on popular social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Those who suffer injury, loss or damage in automobile accidents involving an intoxicated teen driver may seek civil remedies. Personal injury attorneys may consider filing lawsuits on their behalf against parents who allow their teenage children to get behind the wheel after drinking. Such litigation may seek compensation for the property damage, lost income and medical expenses that have been incurred.

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