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This article was originally published on 03/27/2012. Information and links within may no longer be applicable.

Virginia Western part of coalition addressing alcohol-related crashes among youths

The Roanoke Prevention Planning Team, a collaborative partner of Roanoke Area Youth Substance Abuse Coalition (RAYSAC), has been awarded a grant by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services to reduce the rate of motor vehicle crashes involving a driver under the influence of alcohol between the ages of 15-24 in Roanoke.

The coalition will also assess the consumption patterns of young-adult binge drinking between 18-24 as well as the general underage drinking behaviors that lead to motor vehicle crashes. Funding for the grant comes from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP).

“Our community pays the price in damage to property, strain on resources and legal costs, but most tragically, we pay the price in physical injury and loss of life when anyone chooses to drink and drive,” said Ray Bemis, coordinator of the Roanoke Prevention Planning Team. “RAYSAC and the Roanoke Prevention Alliance, with the help of all our partners, will strive to affect change to reduce these tragedies for all the citizens of Roanoke.”

Partners in the Roanoke Prevention Planning Team include Roanoke City, Roanoke City Police Department, Carilion Clinic, Virginia Western Community College, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), U.S. Attorney’s Office, Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare and Jefferson College of Health Sciences. There are also many other partner organizations with law enforcement, healthcare, education and church-based focuses.

The first phase of the grant will implement the Strategic Prevention Framework, a five-step process designed to identify key substance-related consequences and causes, prioritize the findings and implement appropriate prevention strategies to reduce the level of alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes in Roanoke.

The mission of the Roanoke Prevention Planning Team is to strive to promote community awareness about risky behaviors and attitudes among youth; to implement a unified comprehensive approach for prevention planning; to identify strategies to increase resources available to prevent substance abuse, violence, teen pregnancy and school failure and to encourage family and community involvement.

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