Police offer safety message to teenagers as graduation approaches

June 7, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 6 a.m. June 7, 2012

The approach of graduation at Issaquah School District high schools and elsewhere prompted the Washington State Patrol to remind teenagers to celebrate graduation safely.

Troopers urged parents to talk to teenagers about the perils of distracted driving and driving under the influence.

“I have seen my share of fatal collisions involving kids who just graduated from high school and were celebrating with their friends,” Lt. Kandi Patrick said.

In recent years, more than 1,000 fatal collisions in Washington involved drivers between the ages of 16 and 25. Police said vehicle drivers and passengers encompassed more than 90 percent of deaths, and 61 percent encompassed the vehicle driver.

Statewide, more than 20 percent of deaths involving young drivers occurred in July or August between 6 p.m. on a Friday and 5:59 a.m. on a Monday. Speeding ranked as the No. 1 factor in the fatal accidents, followed by drug and alcohol impairment, and distracted driving.

Under state law, police can arrest a minor for driving under the influence if he or she has a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.02 percent. The legal limit for adults 21 and older is 0.08 percent.

The state patrol urges teenage motorists not to text and drive, not to be pressured into drinking, slowing down and paying attention to surroundings, and wearing a seat belt.

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