Howard group offers calendar to help parents keep teens safe Tips aim to curb mishaps by increasing supervision

January 25, 1996|By Vikki Valentine | Vikki Valentine,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

If parents want to reduce the chance of their children dying in car accidents, they must increase supervision, residents and community leaders in western Howard County say.

The Western Howard County Coalition -- formed by parents, teens, school staff and representatives from the Howard County Board of Education and Police Department -- has released its second annual calendar containing tips to keep youths on the straight and narrow.

The calendar recommends actions some parents might find surprising, such as regularly searching a teen-ager's room or car.

"You owe your child your oversight more than you owe them your unquestioning confidence," states the calendar, which includes information from health agencies, community organizations and coalition members.

The coalition is preparing for its March 4 town meeting, at which representatives from drug- and alcohol-abuse agencies will be available to talk to parents and students about legal accountability.

For instance, some adults don't know that they can be legally responsible for alcohol-related accidents involving minors served alcohol on their property.

The month of June is dedicated to advice on how parents can responsibly hold parties for youths. The coalition advises parents to check the coats and purses of all youths who enter the house. Once youths leave, it recommends, they shouldn't be readmitted, because they could be sneaking a drink outside.

The group is trying to create a parent support network. "Parents don't get enough information, and they have a lot of questions when faced with information only from their child," said Eileen Woodbury, school board representative to the coalition.

An Eastern Howard County Coalition that also was formed last year shares the same main concern of underage drinking and driving.

The Board of Education reports that 26 percent of county 12th-graders admit to driving while intoxicated; 35 percent say they have ridden in a car while the driver was intoxicated.

But although accidents are the top cause of death among teens, and some teens drink and drive, only 10 percent of the accidents among 16-year-olds nationally are linked to alcohol, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Speed and inexperience are bigger factors in fatal wrecks.

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