SAN JOSE -- We're used to the warnings flooding the airwaves as a holiday weekend approaches: Don't drink and drive, and if you do, police will be on the road looking for you.
It may be feel warmed over by now, but the message remains tragically necessary. According to national advocacy group Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatal drunken driving crashes in the country peak from 28 each day to 42 in the days leading up to and including the Labor Day weekend.
"If you drive drunk, you will be arrested," said Campbell Police Chief Gregory Finch, president of the county's police chiefs association.
And that's why Santa Clara County's law-enforcement agencies packed into the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office on Friday to launch the "Avoid the 13" campaign, a period of heightened DUI enforcement from now through Labor Day.
This time, the gathering was focused on teen drunken driving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says motor-vehicle accidents account for a third of teen deaths in the country, many of them involving alcohol.
To hammer home the real-life effects, the family of Jordan West, a 16-year-old Santa Teresa High School student who was killed in a Nov. 21, 2010 crash while riding with a drunken teen driver, recounted their horror of learning that the bright-eyed cheerleader was gone.
It was a phone call from one of Jordan's friends to her mother,
"She said, 'Rosie, Jordan has been in an accident. She's dead,'" Nevinger said.
Jordan didn't have a driver's license at the time, so she knew there was some time before the "don't drink and drive" talk. But Nevinger said she never thought to have a similar talk about her friends who were driving.
"I never told my daughter not to get into a car with a drunk driver," she said.
The driver in Jordan's case is currently being tried for vehicular manslaughter in juvenile court.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Fletcher offered his experience of coming across cases where drunk driving resulted in needless loss. He noted that when it comes to danger, people typically envision shootings or stabbings and give short shrift to a much closer hazard.
"The day-to-day act of driving is the most dangerous activity we engage in," Fletcher said.
He then directed his comments toward parents and their role in preventing drunk driving deaths among teens, choking up briefly as he looked over at Jordan's family and thought about his own children.
"We have a responsibility to each other and to our children," Fletcher said. "We can be teachers, and we can do it most effectively through our own conduct."
Contact Robert Salonga at 408-920-5002. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.