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Preventing drunk driving

Cascade Locks kids attach warning labels to alcohol at local stores

CASCADE LOCKS — Shoppers buying alcohol for the holidays this week received a special warning not to drink and drive.

On Monday, high school students attached 600 notices depicting that message to bottles and shelves wherever liquor was sold.

For the second year, the members of Cascade Locks’ OSSOM — Operation Student Safety On the Move — participated in the statewide program to raise community awareness about the perils of driving while under the influence of intoxicants. In the special yellow bottle-tag, the 10 Cascade Locks OSSOM members listed the following grim statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

In 2000, 40 percent of all motor vehicle deaths, about 17,000, were alcohol-related.

More than 2,000 people were killed last year during the holiday season in alcohol-related collisions.

“We just want people to be safe over the holidays so they can be happy and joyful — because drinking and driving accidents tear that up,” said Julia Back, OSSOM president.

She and her fellow club members have dedicated themselves to promoting a safe, healthy and legal lifestyle, both for their peers and their community.

“Our basic message is, ‘if you’re going to drink just do it responsibly,’” said Rachel Hansen, OSSOM vice-president.

In late May, the OSSOM group enlisted the help of county and state law enforcement officials to stage a safe driving campaign that brought home the realities of drunk driving to many of their peers. The students wore special headgear that was designed to replicate either a .08 or .16 blood alcohol level. They were then put through a standard routine of field sobriety tests and drove donated golf carts through an obstacle course.

Although the program provided moments of hilarity, the “don’t drink and drive” message was brought home by the smashed hulk of a car sitting in front of the school.

The totaled vehicle was a visible reminder of the wreck which ended the life of 16-year-old Hood River Valley High School student Bismar Guadarrama in the spring of 2000.

“We hope people are more aware and pay more attention to what they are doing,” said OSSOM member Jamie Fischer.

OSSOM was founded in Oregon 17 years ago, to educate, train and support the state’s future leaders so they learned decision-making skills that focused on accountability and responsibility.

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