TULSA, OK – [May 31, 2017] – As summer vacation begins, families and youth will be heading to the lake, going to pool parties, and enjoying seasonal celebrations. Alcohol is often involved in many of these summertime festivities. The Tulsa Health Department’s Regional Prevention Coordinator (RPC) program encourages parents to take steps to prevent underage drinking and to set good examples for their families.
According to the recently released 2016 Oklahoma Prevention Needs Assessment (OPNA) survey, 35% of Tulsa County high school seniors report having consumed alcohol with the last 30 days and 20.7 % had engaged in binge drinking within the last 2 weeks. Binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks in a row with the intent of becoming ‘wasted.’ Many of these young people will also attempt to drive or will ride with someone who has been drinking.
“Accidents are the most common cause of death in young persons,” said Marianne Long, Tulsa Health Department’s RPC program manager. “Drivers age 16-20 have the greatest risk for fatal car crashes, and if they have been drinking they are 17 times more likely to get into a car crash than if they were sober.”
According to data from the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office (OHSO), Tulsa County experienced 557 alcohol-related crashes in 2015, resulting in 21 fatalities.
“Although law enforcement and organizations such as the Stop DUI Task Force are working to reduce these accidents and fatalities, it is up to each of us to talk to our children about the dangers of alcohol and impaired driving,” said Long. “We urge parents to set a procedure for your children to follow if they find themselves in a situation where they feel uncomfortable or need a ride home. Establish rules regarding summer outings and parties which they must follow. And above all, set a good example. Do not drink and drive yourself. We want the memories of the summer get-togethers and trips to be ones of joy and pleasure, not ones of tragedy and sorrow.”
Regional Prevention Coordinators
Regional Prevention Coordinators is a grant funded program established to reduce the rates for underage drinking, adult binge drinking, and the non-medical use of painkillers within Tulsa County. The work of RPC is concentrated on population-level change in Tulsa County by assisting communities in determining the substance abuse problems affecting their constituents and the most effective strategies to address these problems. RPC works with local coalitions and stakeholders to gather data, track trends, and provide training and technical assistance within the community. Additionally, RPC provides support for town hall meetings and assists with local alcohol compliance operations. For more information regarding the RPC program at the Tulsa Health Department, please visit www.tulsa-health.org.
Stop DUI Task Force
Tulsa County’s Stop DUI Task Force represents a cross section of the community, including citizens, government officials, law enforcement, business, health professionals, and prevention and treatment specialists with the mission of promoting a healthier and safer environment for county residents by reducing the number of alcohol-related traffic crashes, injuries, and fatalities through public education, awareness, legislation, policies, and environmental and enforcement strategies.