Teens Try New Approach to Tackle Underage Drinking and Driving

For teenagers, summer is not just school vacation.  This time of year is often referred to as the "one hundred deadliest days for drivers."  Texas teen drivers that is, and 366 of them were involved in fatal collisions in 2009.  One organization is trying to change that with a new documentary.

“So I’ve seen kids wanting to leave and get in their cars, and not knowing that they can’t drive and that it’s not ok.”

Erica Moriarty, who’s a senior at St. Agnes Academy in Bellaire, was one of 13 teens involved in the making of “Chronicles of a Teen Killer” for the Houston-Galveston Area Council.  She’s regularly witnessed her peers drinking and driving.  Jeff Kaufman with the H-GAC says the prevalence of this behavior was where the documentary idea came from.

“The idea’s actually a brain child of Assistant Chief Vicky King at the Houston Police Department.  She had come up with the idea that she wanted to do a documentary about the dangers of driving while intoxicated and gear it towards younger drivers.”

Erica was heavily involved in piecing the whole thing together from writing, to producing and editing.  They interviewed police officers, judges, prosecutors and other teens.  The one person that stood out for Erica though, was Milly.

“So I remember, whenever she was giving her interview just everybody that was there and everybody that was in the room was completely silent.  We were a team of 13 teenagers, we were never quiet.  I just remember that being super impactful because it really showed what the consequences are in just one person.

Milly, who is now in her late twenties, was a teen when she got behind the wheel of her car drunk.  It was the first and last time she drove under the influence.  She killed her best friend and she says it changed her life forever.  This is audio from the documentary.

“I had everything in my world. I had amazing parents and family and I had my whole life in front of me and Danny had…Danny had her whole life ahead of her. She was smart and amazing and the center of everyone’s world, like everyone loved her.  So, I took her promising future and all the opportunities that she was gonna have away from her.”

Milly regularly talks to teenagers about her story and how it affected her. During her interview for the documentary, she was still clearly emotional about what happened seven years ago. Kaufman believes it was interviews like Milly’s and the fact that the teens themselves produced the documentary that helped pack a more powerful punch.

“As I speak to people who have seen it and the reactions from their children, they felt that the message was exceptional, it was poignant, it was not preachy, which was something we were really trying to avoid.  The goal was that this was going to be teens talking to teens and we feel that this documentary succeeded in that effort.”

The documentary has been on YouTube for over a month with nearly 6,000 hits.  Kaufman’s hope with the power of social media the popularity of “Chronicles of a Teen Killer” will grow.



Edel Howlin

Edel Howlin

Executive Producer, Special Projects

Edel is an executive producer of special projects working on station-wide, multi-platform initiatives such as DiverseCity and Houston Public Media's political podcast Party Politics. At Houston Public Media, Edel started as a reporter covering veteran issues and the quirkier side of life in Houston. Before her time in public radio she worked for...

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