Warning about back-to-school drinking - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Warning about back-to-school drinking

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TYLER (KYTX) - As East Texas students head back to school, those with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) are urging you to have a conversation with them about the dangers of drinking and driving.

School is a place where a lot of kids experience peer pressure. A new survey from Mothers Against Drunk Driving shows most Texas teens feel prepared to handle that pressure, but they're worried about their friends.

"I think the thing that I've learned more than anything is keeping the lines of communication open." says Tina Loper.

She wants her 16-year-old daughter to feel comfortable speaking with her about underage drinking.

"Not just her drinking," she says, "I don't want her getting in the vehicle with somebody who's drinking."

Loper says she regrets not having those conversations sooner.

"A young drunk driver, a repeat offender, who at the age of 21, took the life of her middle brother. He was only six and she was only four."

Loper says the driver was more than three times the legal limit when he ran a red light and T-boned her family's car, killing her youngest son, Christopher.

"So, I kind of, for a long time, thought that that was enough to impact her. And, maybe I didn't do enough talking."

Executive Director of MADD East Texas, Leslie Watson, says kids do listen, and parents should never underestimate the value of those lessons.

"Those messages actually have more of an impact than the messaging that you see on television or the programs that are done at the schools."

Loper says warning your children about the dangers of drinking and driving could save lives.

"He'd trade places with Christopher in a heartbeat. That's a direct quote from him."

But, she says his remorse isn't enough.

"The fact that he's sorry doesn't change what he's done. And, the fact that it's not fixable. And, that's something that I reiterate to my daughter, to her friends, every chance I get."

Loper says a day doesn't go by that she doesn't think about the kind of man Christopher would be today.

She says there is no demographic untouched by the consequences of drinking and driving. She urges parents to not be naive and think their child won't become a victim.

Those with MADD suggest you start communicating before a problem starts. They say you should enforce rules, but also show your children respect, pay attention to them and show you care.

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