Between 2006 and 2011, drunk drivers aged 15 to 24 were responsible for more than 1,900 car wrecks across Fairfax County.
In an effort to create a broader community conversation about the issue, the Unified Prevention Coalition is hosting "Drinking and Driving by Our Youth and Young Adults," a series of five forums for students and their parents.
The first two are scheduled for Tuesday night, at West Potomac High School and the West Springfield Government Center.
While the coalition, a nonprofit that works toward prevention of violence and alcohol and drug use among young adults, hosts a number of events and forums each year, it's the first time the organization has put on this series.
The difference, UPC Communications Director Becky York says, is these forums are designed as a "'conversation,' with a facilitator from George Mason University there to share information and get people talking about this important issue," York said.
The Fairfax County Police Department, Annandale and West Potomac High Schools, and the Safe Community Coalition is also partnering with UPC for the events.
“We hope to obtain a better understanding of community perceptions related to underage drinking, binge drinking, and drinking and driving as well as enforcement of the drinking laws,” UPC President Lisa Adler said in a statement.
The forums will also help the organization gather information it could use to better create programs — and cut down on the problem — in the future.
Last year, UPC was one of 13 jurisdictions in Virginia to receive a Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant (SPF-SIG), "a state grant whose funds are provided from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention," York said.
The first year of the grant charges recipients to perform a community assessment that identifies root causes of underage and binge drinking that lead to crashes involving alcohol and young drivers.
"The five forums represent one part of that assessment — to get a better understanding of community perceptions," York said.
UPC kicks off the series Tuesday night at two different locations. All forums will be held between 7 and 8:30 p.m., unless otherwise noted:
- Tuesday, Oct. 2: West Potomac High School (Kogelman Theatre)
- Tuesday, Oct. 2: West Springfield Government Center * begins at 7:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, Oct. 9: McLean Community Center (Community Room)
- Tuesday, Oct. 16: Sully Governmental Center
- Wednesday, Oct. 17: Annandale High School (Clausen Hall)