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Laurie Ender: White Ribbon Week urges teens to celebrate safely

Live from City Hall

Posted: June 5, 2010 4:55 a.m.
Updated: June 5, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Santa Clarita teens graduating from high school in 2010 will do so with a sense of unmatched excitement as they prepare for the next stage of their lives. While graduation is an event to celebrate, it's also a time when kids need to be reminded about the damages of drunk or reckless driving.

Every year, an alarming number of teens lose their lives to injuries associated with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and distracted driving. Motor vehicle crashes remain the number one killer of people ages 16 to 20. During prom and graduation weekends, teen deaths from alcohol-related traffic incidents are higher than any other time of year. To help effectively deal with this head on, Frontier Toyota, Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the city of Santa Clarita, Safe Rides and the Signal have teamed up for the annual White Ribbon Week, which raises awareness about safe driving among local teens and graduating seniors.

White Ribbon Week is when all Santa Clarita high school graduations occur. The White Ribbon campaign began in 1998 in response to concerns over the number of local teens who lost their lives in vehicular collisions as a result of someone's bad decision to drive recklessly or while impaired.

As part of the special week, a Santa Clarita sheriff's deputy speaks at each senior class assembly in the local high schools and distributes the white ribbons for the students to wear on their gowns during graduation. These white ribbons serve as a reminder to celebrate commencement in a safe and sober way, and to remember local teens lost to reckless driving. The ribbons are attached to cards with the names of local youths who lost their lives in traffic collisions in the past five years. It is our hope that sometime soon, there will be no more names on these cards.

A large white ribbon hangs in front of City Hall to show the city's support for White Ribbon Week. Parents are encouraged to get into the spirit of the event and take the time to talk to teens - especially graduating seniors - about the dangers of reckless and distracted driving.

Graduation is a time for celebration and our local youth should be rewarded for their hard work as they make the transition from high school to college and the "real world." Residents are invited to join us in our efforts to ensure that our teens celebrate graduation safely and get the chance to walk across the commencement stage. I encourage residents to support White Ribbon Week by picking up a white ribbon at City Hall, Frontier Toyota, Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital or The Signal and to wear it as a reminder that it takes every one of us in the community to work together to keep our children safe.

On behalf of the Santa Clarita City Council, a hearty congratulations to the class of 2010. Let's make this a special celebration and a safe one for our graduates and for all of us who share the road with them.

Laurie Ender is the Councilmember for the city of Santa Clarita and can be reached at: Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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