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Stories About Distracted and Drunk Driving Prevention


KEYC-TV Sponsors a "Think Before You Drink" PSA Campaign

In an effort to help high school students make smart decisions, KEYC-TV in Mankato, Minn., sponsors a "Think Before You Drink" public service announcement (PSA) program. Area youth have the opportunity to write, produce and star in PSAs addressing illegal underage drinking. "The idea is simple," said KEYC’s Jan Ellanson. "The message will be better received if written and delivered by the peers of those listening." The spots are aired on KEYC throughout prom and graduation season when drinking and driving accidents often spike among America’s youth. In 2007, Maple River, Jackson County West, Mankato West and Madelia high schools participated in the program. Each school received at least 100 plays of the announcement its students created. The spots, produced by KEYC production staff, often involve participation from the community and have been filmed in hospitals, jails, schools and cemeteries. This year, the messages are particularly timely, as Minnesota recently lost four of its youth to accidents involving alcohol in a four-month period.

KJRH-TV Produces ’Don’t Drink and Drive’ Campaign

Someone loses their life to drunk driving every 31 minutes, which is why KJRH-TV in Tulsa, Okla., took action to get a strong "Don’t Drink and Drive" message out to its viewers. To expand its yearly support of Project Roadblock, a nation-wide public service campaign to "Put the Brakes on Drunk Driving," the station created a powerful public service announcement (PSA) using regional statistics about alcohol- and drug-related accidents over the holidays. During the week leading up to New Year’s Eve, the station aired the message more than 60 times. The station ran companion news pieces regarding the dangers of drunk driving, safe driving tips and alternative transit options as well. The PSA received a 2008 Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Media Awareness Award in recognition of furthering MADD’s mission to stop drunk driving.

WJLA-TV Assists with Youth Driving Program

At the end of the 2006 school year, the viewing area of WJLA-TV in Arlington, Va., had lost more than three dozen teens to motor vehicle crashes. The station, local law enforcement and Northern Virginia chapter of Mother’s Against Drunk Driving banded together to design a program about driving safety that could reach young audiences in a individual and lasting way. Now in its third year, "Drive to Stay Alive" has been presented to more than 25,000 young drivers at school assemblies. The 45-minute presentation is hosted by station anchor Leon Harris and medical reporter Kathy Fowler, herself a survivor of a deadly teen crash. Among its many components are a video report produced by the station chronicling teen driving behavior, a presentation by a local police officer about the 40 percent of teen crashes involving alcohol or drugs, Fowler’s personal story of survival, a segment by WJLA reporter Horace Holmes who accompanied the Montgomery Alcohol Enforcement unit for a weekend as it pursued underage drinkers and a video memorializing local teens who lost their lives in crashes. A related one-hour primetime special aired on WJLA during prom season 2008 and was then distributed on DVD to high schools throughout the area. Currently, WJLA is in preliminary talks with the Maryland Highway Administration about plans to take the program statewide.

Station Group Provides Support for Area Alcoholics Anonymous

To make sure those struggling with alcohol addiction know where they can get help, KZTA-FM, KZML-FM, KMMG-FM, KZTB-FM and KDYM-AM in Yakima, Wash., made a group-wide commitment to support their local Alcoholics Anonymous group on the air. The stations produce a new public service announcement for the AA group on a monthly basis. Since the beginning of the on-air campaign in 2007, the group has grown from working out of the basement of a small house to a community center, where it holds sober events and other activities. "They’re so happy with the results they come by the station two or three times a month just say thanks and to let us know they got five new people the previous week because they heard about it on our stations," said General Manager Keith Teske.

KRSP-FM Partners with Mothers Against Drunk Driving

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Each winter, KRSP-FM in Salt Lake City, Utah, teams with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to encourage its listeners not to drive drunk during the holidays and throughout their lives. For 18 years, the station has been involved with the "Tie One On" campaign, where people display red ribbons or stickers on their cars as an indication of their pledge not to drink and drive. The effort kicks off in November, when KRSP broadcasts live from a MADD breakfast for the Utah Highway Patrol. From this date until after the start of the new year, the station makes four appearances each week in highly trafficked locations in the community to hand out red ribbon car stickers. In conjunction with these events, the station creates 15 different recorded promotional spots, which air six times each day. The spots are legacy award winners, earning the Utah Association of Broadcasters Gold Award three times in the last five years. During the campaign, live and recorded promotional spots air nearly 500 times. In addition, stories about family members who have lost a loved one to a drunk driver and interviews with police officers who have been first responders are a powerful component in the station’s effort to raise awareness. Last holiday season, the station distributed more than 20,000 red ribbon stickers, dedicating more than $100,000 in airtime and support to the campaign. When statistics came in, the results were significant. DUIs were down by 15 percent for the month of December. KRSP was a National Association of Broadcasters’ Crystal Award Finalist in 2008.

KPTV-TV Works to Prevent Underage Drinking

Nearly a third of Oregon eighth graders and half of 11th graders report drinking alcohol in the past 30 days. These alarming statistics spurred KPTV-TV in Beaverton, Ore., into action to reverse the trend. Working with the Oregon Partnership, a statewide nonprofit organization that works to promote the health of kids, the station launched a multi-platform community service campaign to prevent underage drinking. In addition to a series of news stories, the news team produced a half-hour special, "Underage Drinking: A Call to Action," which aired during National Alcohol Awareness Month in conjunction with town hall meetings. KPTV news anchor Wayne Garcia moderated the town hall meeting at Beaverton’s Sunset High School. The station also produced both broadcast and print public service announcements. The focus of all aspects of the campaign was on changing the future so alcohol use doesn’t claim the lives and health of more teens.

KOPR-FM Supports "Mariah’s Challenge"

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The community to which KOPR-FM in Butte, Mont., broadcasts was devastated when they lost 14-year-old Mariah McCarthy in a hit-and-run by an underage drunk driver. At his daughter’s funeral, Leo McCarthy challenged other teens not to drink. Touched by his words, the station asked permission to help take "Mariah’s Challenge" to the community at large. The effort, known by its logo of pink angel wings, has grown into a foundation headed by Mariah’s parents. A $500 educational scholarship is given to each teen who pledges and fulfills a promise not to drink underage. To date, 7,000 students have signed up for the challenge, and tens of thousands of dollars have been raised. The station, along with its three sister stations, KBOW-AM, KGLM-FM and KANA-AM, supports all "Mariah’s Challenge" events. Mariah’s family and friends have gone on the air to talk about their commitment to prevent similar tragedies. The station created "Butte Tough" public service announcements (PSAs) to support the challenge, which target both youth and adults by asking, "Are you tough enough to say no to underage drinking? Are you tough enough to say no to drinking and driving?" Mariah’s friends and family voice the announcements. "The soul-shattering, heart-shaking PSAs have kept ‘Mariah’s Challenge’ in people’s minds. I am at a loss for words for the guys at KOPR," said McCarthy. The "Butte Tough" campaign was awarded the Montana Broadcasters Association EB Award for best public service.