In the past 5 years, Danny McCoy has told this story to thousands of teens: When he was 19 years old, he drove home from a fraternity party after a night of drinking. He fell asleep for only a few seconds. In those moments, he hit a utility pole, killing his 17-year-old passenger, Alexandra Everhart.
Danny feels the horror and guilt born of that night every day of his life. In a newspaper interview after one high school assembly, McCoy says, "I'm telling you all, you do not want to put that much pain and destruction in this world."
Unfortunately, this story is all too common. Teens who’ve been partying late, whose judgment has been impaired by drugs or alcohol, or who are just plain tired, decide to take the wheel. Every year, about 3,500 American teens die in car crashes, and 22% of drivers aged 15 to 20 involved in fatal crashes were drinking. Beyond those lives lost, countless more—those of their parents, siblings, and friends—are devastated as a result.
April is Alcohol Awareness Month. It’s also the month for high school proms, college admissions, and spring fever—all of which might make you and your friends eager to celebrate. However, teens are especially vulnerable to the effects of alcohol because their brains and bodies are still developing.
Danny McCoy can never bring Alexandra Everhart back. All he can do is tell his story and hope that it causes at least one person to make the responsible decision not to drive impaired.
Check out these four tips to avoid drinking and driving. Do you have other strategies? Tell us in comments.