According to the CDC, the percentage of high school students who drink and drive has decreased by 54 percent since 1991. That’s the good news. The bad news is that one in 10 teenagers still drinks and drives, and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 2,500 of them die in alcohol-related crashes each year. Fortunately, one Triad company is working to reduce those numbers.

David Daggett, an attorney with Daggett Shuler, created the “Safe Sober Prom Night” program 31 years ago, and since then, he, his partner Griff Shuler and their army of volunteers have reached out to area teens with a message of responsible behavior. The SSPN program simply requires high school students to sign a pledge that they will not drink and drive, and thus far, over 600,000 teens have taken that pledge.    

David and Griff appeared on a recent episode of “Triad Today” to talk about how “Safe Sober Prom Night” came about and where it’s headed.

 DavidWe started the program with an awareness of the dangers of alcohol and drugs for young people, then based it on the most positive force there is, which is positive peer pressure. Then we also got the community involved in the program. In the early days, students were resistant. Nowadays, we tell the volunteers to stand back because there’s an avalanche of students just waiting to sign the pledge.

And every teen that takes the pledge receives a custom-designed t-shirt, which they wear as a badge of honor.

DavidThe t-shirts are a tangible reminder of the program, and that’s been sort of a hallmark of positive peer pressure.  

Obviously, the program has been a big hit with t-shirt-wearing teens, but it is also recognized and appreciated by school officials.

GriffSome of the feedback we get is from school administrators and principals who say the program has made a difference in their schools, and that’s what we love to see, which is students making the decision to sign the pledge to be safe and sober.

Until now, Daggett Shuler’s efforts have been focused on keeping kids safe and sober during prom season, but the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a different approach, which has now resulted in new branding, and an expansion of the program.

DavidThere were no proms last year and very few this year, so we’re modifying and expanding the program from “Safe Sober Prom Night” to “SafeSober.com.” Now, in addition to spreading a message of sobriety during prom season, we can address graduations, back-to-school events, freshman orientation, and other activities. We can be much more versatile year-round and connect with the students where they are.

Of course, Daggett Shuler will continue to give out t-shirts to participating teens, and that means holding an annual competition for the best t-shirt design. But “SafeSober.com” is about much more than just t-shirts. It’s about saving lives.

DavidIn what Griff and I do professionally, we’ve seen lives shattered due to drinking and driving issues. “SafeSober.com” will help a generation of kids, and that makes our community better today and into the future. We now have grandkids of our first Safe Sober Prom Night students who are taking the pledge, and that’s pretty gratifying.

For more information, visit www.safesober.com.

Jim Longworth is the host of Triad Today, airing on Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11 a.m. on WMYV (cable channel 15).

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