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feature ● sadd By Bryan Delaney, 2015-2016 SADD National Student of the Year A Night to Remember Make no mistake about it, there’s no difference between driving under the inﬂuence of alcohol or drugs—both are terrible ideas E xcitement was in the air for all the celebration that lied ahead. As the ﬁrst semester ended and high school graduation approached, we looked forward to the “rites of passage” that rewarded us for all the studying, stressing, and test taking we’d done since freshman year. One of the most memorable senior year celebrations is Senior Prom. I had looked forward to attending prom since my freshman year. It was the magical evening that gave me a reason to dress up in a fancy tuxedo and dance the entire night away with my date, friends, and fellow classmates. It was that special night that gave me an excuse to rent a stretch limousine and crank the music as loud as the driver could handle. I knew it was going to be one of the most memorable nights of my life. Prom arrived and it proved to be everything I imagined. My date looked stunning. We enjoyed a delicious meal. We talked, laughed, and danced the night away. And the best part? We didn’t drink alcohol and we didn’t do drugs. We didn’t need to in order to have a great time. My friends and I talked about this decision before prom. We knew that we shared the same values, and we didn’t want any substances to cloud our memories of such an incredible night. My friends and I chose to stay drug and alcohol free, but I know that not everyone made the same choice that night. Research shows that 1-in-8 weekend and nighttime drivers are under the inﬂuence of drugs. In this day and age, many teens recognize the dangers of driving drunk but may not consider drugged driving to be equally dangerous. There is a common myth that using drugs, speciﬁcally marijuana, makes better, more relaxed drivers. This simply isn’t true. Drugs can reduce your ability to respond to dangers on the road, cloud your vision, and affect your motor skills. Pre- scription drugs have similar effects even though many teens (and adults!) feel that if a doctor prescribes drugs, they must be safe. Impaired driving is still a leading cause of crashes, and car crashes remain the number one killer of teens today. As a SADD student and leader, I continue to work to keep 32 PAGEANTRY our roads safe, but I can’t do it alone. Together, we can change these numbers. It is important to make smart choices behind the wheel, even when it’s not “easy” or “cool.” We must speak up when friends or family members contemplate driving impaired, whether it’s alcohol or drugs. Speak up, not out of judg- ment, but instead, to save lives! Initiate these impor- tant conversations about safe driving in advance, like my friends and I did, to avoid awkward mo- ments on prom night. And most importantly, make safe and smart deci- sions, not just at prom, but every night! Ⅺ BRYAN DELANEY, SADD NATIONAL STUDENT OF THE YEAR Bryan Delaney is the SADD National Student of the Year. A fearless advocate for SADD and its mission, Bryan spent his high school career working to make his school and community a better place. Whether it was successfully campaigning his local Board of Health to pass an ordinance banning tobacco in public parks or organizing a wildly successful “Concert for a Cause,” raising $25,000 for his local SADD program, Bryan is constantly striving to positively inﬂuence the world around him. As this year’s SADD National Student of the Year, Bryan holds a seat on the SADD National Board of Directors and chairs the 10-member SADD National Student Leadership Council. He serves as a SADD spokesperson at various national conferences, media events, and public events and will work as a college intern for the National Highway Trafﬁc Safety Administration (NHTSA) in Washington, D.C. in the summer of 2016.