The word Schoolies automatically brings to mind thoughts of wild teenagers boozing it up and causing havoc in the streets.
With fears about young drivers getting behind the wheel with their mates after a big night out, the nation's police forces and road safety groups have united to call on young drivers to not drink and drive if heading to a Schoolies event, as the annual event enters its second week.
The pleas come as an RACQ survey alarmingly revealed that forty per cent of young people believed they had been a passenger when their mate was driving over the legal blood alcohol limit.
Urging drivers to think, not drink
Schoolies is always a big event in Queensland with thousands of young revellers heading to areas such as the Gold Coast to enjoy finishing school once and for all.
With teens attending from across the state and the country, the RACQ has urged youngsters to not drink if they are getting behind the wheel.
It’s a problem that RACQ spokesperson Lauren Ritchie acknowledges is a cause for a spike in fatal crashes in the young demographic.
In a statement, she said: “Sadly, we know P-platers are a very high-risk age group and are regularly over-represented in fatal road crashes.”
“There’s always an alternative to getting in the car with someone who has been affected by drugs or alcohol,” she added.
It comes as the RACQ, along with Queensland Police, revealed that alcohol played a part in 30 per cent of all fatal crashes in The Sunshine State in recent years.
Ms Ritchie also called on parents of teenagers to hammer home the risks and dangers that their children could face if getting in a car with a drunk driver.
“We encourage parents to educate their kids about trusting their gut to remove themselves from a situation that feels wrong and to have a backup plan,” said Ms Ritchie.
Police nationwide calling for caution
It wasn’t just road safety groups calling for caution during Schoolies events as police forces up and down the country shared confronting warnings.
Queensland Police were quick to reiterate that many youngsters need to think carefully when heading to a Schoolies event this year.
In a statement, Queensland Police Assistant Commissioner Ben Marcus made it clear that teenagers need to think carefully about their actions stating: “Making the decision to get behind the wheel after drinking is incredibly risky behaviour.”
“Remember that their actions on the road have direct consequences on their lives and those around them,” he added.
With such harrowing statistics about young motorists driving under the influence, it has meant that other police forces across the country have also called for drivers to think about their actions.
In New South Wales, local forces have been taking a similar stance particular around Byron Bay where many big events are planned over the next few weeks.
Detective Chief Inspector Matt Kehoe, head of the Tweed/Byron Police District, was all too aware of the potential problems at play.
“Drugs and alcohol impair your judgement and can lead to risky behaviours which can impact the rest of your life,” Detective Chief Inspector Kehoe said in a statement.
“As always, if you are planning on drinking – you need a Plan B to get yourself home,” he added.
Alongside the safety factor, young drivers who are caught driving drunk risk immediately losing their licence as all Australian states impose a strict zero limit on anyone driving on P-Plates.
With all this in mind, the powers at be are still here to ensure that everyone enjoys Schoolies safely without having their nights ruined by an incident as Detective Chief Inspector Kehoe remarked.
“We want to remind school leavers that we aren’t here to ruin the fun – our officers are here to protect you and provide a safe environment to enjoy celebrations in,” he said.
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