Alcohol-related crashes drop among young adults

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ROANOKE COUNTY (WSLS 10) - Teens and alcohol, it's something Roanoke County Resource Officer Brent Hudson has plenty of experience dealing with at Glenvar High School.

Sadly, that combination can be deadly when they get behind the wheel.

"As a young person you don't think of all the dangers that are out there," Hudson said. "When something like this happens it's a shock to their system. When something like this happens to a really good friend or someone their age, I think reality starts to set in."

Here's how bad it got in Roanoke County. In 2012, alcohol related crashes for 18 to 20 year olds was 66 percent above the state average. But since then, that number has plummeted, and it's thanks largely to a federal grant.

Non-profits like the Prevention Council of Roanoke County are teaming with police, businesses and students to spread awareness and push enforcement. So far, the numbers show it's working.

Of the four communities to receive the grant, Roanoke has seen its alcohol related crashes among 18-to-24-year-olds drop 60 percent.

Crashes have dropped 42 percent in Roanoke County, and 30 percent in both Franklin and Campbell counties.

"We had a huge decrease in the amount of kids that said they binge drink. We had decrease in those who said they drink and drive. That all went down," said Brittany Sandidge, the Director of Development for the Prevention Council of Roanoke County. "We also saw an increase in the belief that if we do drink and drive, we will get caught."

It's a sign of progress, as our local communities work to turn around a dangerous trend.

With the grant set to expire in 2015, Sandidge said the goal now is to keep the momentum going.

"To tackle something like underage drinking or drinking and driving, this shows that it can happen," she said. "It can happen at a very local level."

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