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June 09, 2009

Encourage your teen drivers to 'Make The Right Choice' during Prom and Graduation season

Brandon_silveria Congressman Jim Himes and The Century Council (a national not-for-profit organization funded by distillers dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking) recently brought a life-saving lesson about the dangers of drunk driving and underage drinking to students at Warren Harding High School in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Brandon Silveria and his father Tony spoke to students about the importance of "making the right choice"  about alcohol, and that if students are under the age of 21, the only responsible decision is not to drink. Brandon was involved in an alcohol-related crash at age 17 just before his high school prom and since his long and painful recovery he has chosen to share his story so other teen drivers won't make the same mistake.

During the presentation, Brandon told students his wrenching story of how, as a high school student, he had everything a teenager could want: a job, a girlfriend and plans for the future -- until he had a few drinks at a party and chose to drive home. After falling asleep at the wheel, crossing the centerline and crashing into a tree, he was left in a coma for three months and spent several years in rehabilitation. Brandon was so badly injured that basic motor functions such as walking, talking and swallowing had to be re-learned. He has permanent brain injury and suffers from dangerous seizures. Brandon's teen safety presentations continue to receive standing ovations from students across the country, and he has a series of videos posted at YouTube as well.

Artistic_teen_prom_car_flickr_photos_labellavida_3424755978 "What you become depends on the choices that you make," said Brandon. "When I was 17, I had a job and a girlfriend. Because of my crash, I lost both of them. My hope is that by sharing my experiences with other young people, I can prevent others from being hurt or killed." Tragically, 1840 youth under the age of 21 were killed in alcohol-impared driving crashes in 2007.

"As an EMT, every major auto accident I responded to involved alcohol, and sometimes, fatalities resulted," said Congressman Himes. "I implore these young people and their friends to keep alcohol off the roads. I welcome Brandon and Tony Silveria to Connecticut and am proud to have them with us today to communicate their life-saving message." In fact, according to research posted at thecenturycouncil.com,  almost 13,000 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in 2007.

"In Connecticut in 2007, 98 youths under age 18 were arrested for driving under the influence and 310 youths were arrested for liquor law violations," said Leslie Kimball of The Century Council. According to the 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 10.7 million Americans between ages 12-20 report current alcohol consumption; this represents nearly 28% of this age group for whom alcohol use is illegal. "The goal of Brandon's presentation is to raise awareness about this serious problem and help our youth to make the right choice about alcohol. I'm hopeful that Brandon and Tony's words will resonate with the students."

Through educational efforts such as the Silveria lecture and video program, The Century Council educates students across the country about the hazards of underage drinking and driving. Since Brandon and his father Tony have become spokespeople for The Century Council, they have addressed well over three million high school students nationwide and have been featured on such television programs as "Rescue 911," NBC's "Today," as well as media outlets across the country.

You can also schedule a program featuring Brandon and Tony Silveria at your own school or special event. Find out more at maketherightchoice.info The Century Council is a national, not-for-profit organization funded by distillers dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking. For more information on The Council and its mission, please log onto www.centurycouncil.org.

Creative Commons Prom Car photo by labellavida at flickr. 


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