It's easy to see which towns are celebrating homecoming week this fall. Ahh, the sound of marching bands, the smell of hot dogs and burning leaves, the brisk fall air and trees fluttering with TP.
With homecoming, of course, come a lot of privileges, as well as responsibilities.
Those privileges, of course, include the privilege of being able to drive a date to the homecoming dance after the big game. It's a great opportunity for high-school couples to enjoy a night together and make it something memorable.
When alcohol becomes part of the equation, though, tragedy can result.
To start with, alcohol is illegal. Period. Under Iowa law, underage drivers who have even a minute amount of alcohol will have their licenses suspended. And if they have .08 or more blood alcohol content, the penalties are even more severe.
That's only the beginning, though.
It's one thing to be an inexperienced driver. It's another to be an inexperienced drinker. Put the two together and what do you get? The potential for a really bad experience.
Drivers just getting used to driving and the road face challenges if they're stone-cold sober. Mix in alcohol, though - any amount of alcohol - and the result could be tragedy.
Reaction times are multiplied. So that deer running in front of the car. That other driver in the oncoming car. Those noisy, boisterous friends in the back seat. They could all present distractions and hazards to which the novice driver may not know how to react.
In the newspaper business, we're always having to run stories about teen drivers - or any drivers at all - having a tragic alcohol-related accident. We would much rather never have to run those stories.
So do us a favor, and leave the alcohol out of the car. Better yet, leave it alone. Period.