The Peter K. O'Rourke Special Achievement Award
The Peter K. O'Rourke Special Achievement Awards recognize notable achievements in the field of highway safety during the prior calendar year by individuals, coalitions, organizations, nonprofit groups, businesses, government agencies, universities or programs. About Peter K. O'Rourke
2008 Winner: E.A.S.Y. – ParentsEmpowered.org
Eliminating Alcohol Sales to Youth (E.A.S.Y.) – ParentsEmpowered.org is a unique program that works toward eliminating underage drinking in Utah through total community mobilization.
In response to an alarming increase in alcohol use by young adults and more DUI arrests of individuals under 21, the Utah State Legislature passed the Eliminating Alcohol Sales to Youth (E.A.S.Y.) law during the 2006 legislative session. The law outlined the roles of various stakeholders in the effort to eliminate underage drinking. It designated $2.1 million from state liquor tax funds for a media campaign and alcohol compliance check program.
While the statewide media and education campaign began by focusing on traditional media, it was not until the non-traditional aspects of the campaign started in 2007 that the program reached new heights. February of 2007 was designated as Parents Empowered Month: kits containing banners, tee shirts, brochures and incentive items were given out by 13 local substance abuse authorities to promote ParentsEmpowered.org, and they sponsored events such as high school games.
ParentsEmpowered.org launched a feature that allows parents to send text messages to their children, without enduring the complexities of actually texting. This tool helps overcome the technical generation gap by allowing parents to select from several pre-written messages.
Another creative outreach effort included catchy ads on sanitation trucks, such as "Saying underage drinking is harmless is a load of garbage." The program also partnered with Associated Foods to print messages on 56 million plastic grocery bags distributed in Utah as well as five other Western states.
E.A.S.Y. also helped fortify the front lines of defense-retail outlets selling alcohol. It reimbursed expenses incurred by local law enforcement agencies that conducted alcohol compliance checks, ensuring that each jurisdiction was able to sustain a vigorous compliance check program. It also created training requirements for all retail employees who sell or supervise alcohol sales.
Survey results indicate that underage drinking is already decreasing, as Utah moves closer to its ultimate goal of eliminating underage drinking.