WOULD YOU be alarmed to learn that top leaders of the region's governments met last week to warn all constituents that the most frequently committed violent crime in America may be stalking every graduation setting in the coming weeks? They did, and they are serious--and the crime is drunk driving. And please don't stop reading here; you should know, too, that a new and important areawide law enforcement and public safety campaign is about to be directed at all of this year's graduates--and anyone else who cares about them.
As Prince George's County Executive Parris Glendening noted, graduation festivities should be remembered for good times, not for tragedy of the kind that has haunted his county in the past. But all the warnings and crackdowns are being coordinated, he said, because "drunken drivers simply do not stop because of a boundary . . . or put down their drinks" when they come upon a new jurisdiction.
No matter where you are at the time, or where the drunken driver who hit you comes from, Fairfax Board Chairman Jack Herrity observed, you will be "just as maimed or dead" as you would be if you were hit on any other road in the region.
It is teen-agers, too, who are disproportionately affected by drunk driving, notes Rep. Michael Barnes, under whose auspices the regional campaign has been put together. Though teen-agers make up only 10 percent of licensed drivers, he reports, about 20 percent of all Americans killed in alcohol-related crashes are between the ages of 15 and 19, with an average of 14 teen-agers being killed every day.
So there will be warnings, there will be police at and around commencement events and, in parts of the area, there will be roadblocks, police radio communications and radio, TV and newspaper reminders to the effect that a good friend doesn't let a buddy drive drunk.
This is not a matter of harassment. It's a matter of precaution and good sense