Underage Drinking and Driving in East Texas

The East Texas chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving hosted a special program for Houston County high school students. A program that MADD officials believe couldn't have been more timely.

MADD Program Specialist Kim Higgins said, "Here in Texas we are number one when it comes to alcohol related deaths on the roadways, and we have been for many years."

East Texas ranks third in alcohol related deaths behind the Houston and Dallas metropolitan areas.

"Although we're small and rural, we're number three in the state...a state that's number one in fatalities," Higgins added.

MADD's goal is to reduce the number of alcohol related fatilities on East Texas roads. Today's program featured a state of the art multi-media Broadband presentation designed to teach kids why drinking alcohol and driving don't mix. There were even several guest speakers on hand to share their own personal stories. Speakers like Tina Loper, who's 6 year old son was killed by a drunk driver in 2000.

"The talks start out kind of slow usually. But by the end of the program I'm always glad I did it. You can always tell how it affected them on some level. And hopefully in a positive way where they're going to walk away from here really thinking about their choices in the future and how those choices can affect their futures," Loper told us.

The program hit close to home for many students.

Kennard High Senior Megan Allison said, "We had a girl who was hit by a drunk driver in Kennard in 2003. When I think about that it's really hard.>

In Texas, the average underage drinker begins drinking at age 12, three years earlier than the national average of 15 years old.