Congratulations graduates, but drive safely

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Last week we published a photo of dozens of Jefferson-Morgan High School students decked out in formal wear during the celebration of the school’s annual May Day celebration. The queen and her Prince Charming were surrounded by attendants from all four of the school’s classes.


The May Day court glowed with excitement and anticipation of an evening that for many would mark the days of high school coming to an end and the start of new adventures and challenges.


While the pages of the Observer-Reporter regularly include photographs of high school students preparing for proms, receiving academic awards or preparing for graduation, we must occasionally publish another kind of image – one that depicts a car accident that has brought a promising young life to an end.


The weeks surrounding prom season and commencement are the most dangerous time of the year for teenagers. With winter gone, parents tend to be more indulgent with the car keys, but with more young drivers on the road, the chances of a bad wreck increase.


Sometimes, the cause is simply inattention, as young drivers are distracted by their contemporaries, lack of sufficient experience behind the wheel, or texting and talking on a cellphone. At other times, drugs or alcohol are partly to blame. Whatever the reason, be careful out there. Slow down, keep your eye on the road and, no matter how old you are, don’t try to mix alcohol with driving.


Parents should remember to act like parents and know where their kids are going and with whom. If they’re headed for a party at a friend’s house, find out if there will be adults present who will make sure there is no drinking.


We realize that families can have their own customs and traditions, and if parents want to allow their teenagers to have a sip of wine at dinner, that is their business, though the drinking age is 21. In any event, they should not get behind the wheel afterwards.


And whatever is done within families, it is both foolish and dangerous to serve alcohol to other people’s kids. Occasionally, parents try to be “good sports” and provide booze for their children and their friends to celebrate graduation. But if one of the guests gets behind the wheel of a car and is involved in a serious accident, the adult responsible could not only face criminal charges, but lose his house as the result of a lawsuit.


To the graduates-to-be, congratulations and good luck. Drive carefully, obey the speed limits, don’t drink or use drugs, and remember, no phone call is worth dying for.


Please don’t turn the happiest days of your high school career into a time of mourning for your family and friends.


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