Gangs and drugs are definitely important public safety issues, but traffic accidents are the No. 1 killer of people ages 15-25.
Yes, your child is more likely to die in a traffic collision than in a drive-by shooting or by overdose. In Aiken County, we are above the national average in many categories, but the ones that stand out are alcohol-related fatalities and nonuse of seat belts.
Of the 28 fatal traffic accidents in Aiken County so far this year, 10 involved drivers ages 15 to 25. Eight of those were not wearing seat belts, and six were alcohol-related.
The national average for alcohol-related fatalities in the 15-25 age category is 49 percent. Aiken County's is 60 percent.
How do we stop this trend?
Alive @ 25 is a National Safety Council-sponsored program that focuses on the behavior of drivers in the 15-25 age group. South Carolina is one of the leaders in this effort, with 9,248 students taking the class since February 2007.
Only one of those students has died in a traffic collision.
The numbers do not lie, Alive @ 25 gives us hope that we can stop the increase in deaths among our youth by giving them the tools to operate a motor vehicle safely.
Ask yourself, what have you done for your driver? If the highway patrol came knocking at your door, would you second-guess your efforts?
SGT. STEVE DEIBEL IS COMMUNITY SERVICES COORDINATOR FOR THE AIKEN COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE.