SSPD: Teen Safety Week kicks off with focus on preventing impaired driving |

SSPD: Teen Safety Week kicks off with focus on preventing impaired driving

Patty Oakland
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Today kicks off the start of the inaugural Teen Safety Week, “In the Same ‘Boat.” This is an inter-agency collaboration to promote and cultivate community support and encourage teen safety across the Yampa Valley. The goal is to support teens by brining awareness to the social challenges they face and connecting them and their parents and guardians with valuable tools and resources available within the community.

We often find ourselves asking what are our schools doing about this? While we have partnered with the Steamboat Springs School District in this effort, we also saw an opportunity to utilize the amazing resources throughout this valley and try a different trail.

How often do we combine efforts for a similar mission? How do we show teenagers that we care about their life choices? When do we reach out to support one another’s efforts and lean into resources and compassion, other than in times of struggle and darkness?

In my experience, supportive adults in this community often work in silos. Teens connect to these individuals through school, activities or sports. How do we take some of the burden off our teenagers to navigate who is supportive and who is not? I also believe that this is not unique to the teenage population but struggles that each one of us face regardless of age.

While Teen Safety Week leads up to the Steamboat Springs High School Prom, this an effort for all teenagers, whether Prom is their thing or not. We statistically know that risks increase in this last month of school and throughout summer. School Resource Officer Lisa Eifling and I, with the full support of the SSPD, saw an opportunity for all of us to band together and create support for local teenagers, their parents and guardians, and a great reminder for the community — to reflect on safety and the choices we make to get there.

Today our topic point is driving impaired or driving under the influence drugs or alcohol.

As adults, we often hear conversations around individual metabolism combined with a math equation comparable to the quadratic equation of  how many calories did I consume, what was the grease to bread product ratio, how many drinks did I have, what is the guessed alcoholic percentage in each drink, my weight, my height, my “level” of impairment, and sometimes other variables that I still cannot keep track of how they are remotely associated  with one’s ability to drive home.

We have also heard: There is no roadside test for drugs, it’s not that far of a drive, I have to get home, I don’t see cops patrolling at the time, I’m a better driver with a few drinks or high, and many others.

However, we do know that drug and alcohol consumption effects our body in scientific ways. It is basic physiology when we introduce a substance into our blood stream. Substances effect our brain’s reaction times, perceptions of reality, emotions, balance, processing, ability to communicate and judgement to name a few.

Teenagers, please take this week to speak up and start a conversation if you haven’t. Reach out to your parents and guardians, trusted adults and other resources to get the dialog going.

In my career as an emergency room nurse, I have told parents too many times that their teenager has died related to someone driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. I still can see every teenager’s face, their friends, their parents, their teachers and my colleagues. We were exhausted from lifesaving efforts that weren’t enough compared to the injuries sustained. Something that easily could have been avoided if someone found a sober ride home or chose not to pick up their keys. There is no other description than it sucks, and it hurts in ways that you didn’t know were conceivable.

Remember, every number is a life, a person, a friend, a family member and a member of the community. I encourage you this week to look at statistics through that lens, look for ways to talk to each other, reach out to the amazing resources across this community, and let’s start connecting again. Driving home is not your only option. What are your barriers, concerns, or your “whys?” And what can we do together to resolve them?

Yampa Valley Teenagers, we care about you and the choices you make. Don’t drive impaired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Come to the Teen Safety Fair from 4-6 p.m. Thursday, May 11, to connect with people who are standing up for your safety. Come talk about your concerns and opinions, and other tips that have worked in the past. In the words of my mom, make good choices.

Visit, to get involved or learn more.

Patty Oakland
John F. Russell

Patty Oakland is the civilian investigator at the Steamboat Springs Police Department.

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