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Parents warned of grad party dangers

Police officer removes open liquor from a vehicle at a roadside check. - Black Press files
Police officer removes open liquor from a vehicle at a roadside check.
— image credit: Black Press files

The B.C. government is sticking to education to keep grad parties safe this spring, rather than increasing penalties for "party bus" companies.

Officials are more concerned about under-aged drinking at house parties and bush parties than alcohol served in limousines and buses that have become a popular way for young people to go out on the town.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone said party bus operators have been reminded that no open liquor is allowed in any vehicle, and inspections will continue with violators risking loss of their licences. Party bus operators have changed their websites and advertising to emphasize that no drinking is allowed on board.

At a graduation safety event in Victoria, RCMP and ICBC representatives stressed that there are grad-related fatalities every spring, and the problem extends to adult-sanctioned parties.

Inspector Ted Emanuels, officer in charge of the B.C. RCMP's enhanced traffic services, said any event or transportation where alcohol is served to minors is not a safe grad.

"The misuse and abuse of drugs and alcohol are the underlying factor in grad events where the police get involved, including physical assault, sexual assault, fights and accidental injuries," Emanuel said. "We know from experience that bad things happen to good kids in these environments. There are also criminal and civil liabilities that you need to be aware of."

On average, there are four teens killed in graduation-related vehicle incidents each year in B.C., with another 1,140 injured.

Jill Blacklock, ICBC's road safety manager, said parents need to discuss transportation plans with teens before every event they go to, giving them more than one option. Programming taxi numbers into their phones and checking transit schedules before they go out are recommended.

After grad is over, the summer ahead is a time of parties that need the same kind of planning, Blacklock said.

Emanuels said one of the most difficult jobs in policing is knocking on somebody's door in the middle of the night to report a fatality.

"Answering that door is worse," he said. "Our objective is that your kids wake you up at four in the morning and not us."

 

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