SALT LAKE CITY — Scientific research has shown that alcohol affects teenagers' still-developing brains differently from adult brains and may harm that development.

And if you don't believe the scientists, ask your garbage man.

Salt Lake garbage trucks again have been turned into mobile billboards that will carry underage drinking prevention messages throughout the capital city.

Seventeen sanitation trucks have been wrapped with colorful, in-your-face slogans and images designed to encourage parents to prevent underage drinking by being actively involved in their kids' lives and setting clear rules against alcohol use.

"Parents are the best teachers of their children, and we really want parents to focus their attention on letting their children know that underage drinking is unacceptable," Mayor Ralph Becker said during a news conference Wednesday to unveil the newly decorated trucks.

Colorful images of brains have been painted on the white trucks, along with messages such as, "What parts of their brain don't your kids need?" and "The brain you save may be your kid's."

"Parents, reach out to your children," Becker said. "Talk to your children about the dangers of underage drinking, and do everything you can to try to prevent the horrible consequences we see all too often from underage drinking."

For the past five years, Salt Lake City has partnered with the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control on the Parents Empowered campaign in an effort to reduce underage drinking. Messages on garbage trucks have been a part of that campaign each year.

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Since the start of the campaign, nearly 70 percent of Salt Lake parents say they've set clear rules against underage drinking, according to local pollster Dan Jones.

"The Parents Empowered campaign's targeted message and emphasis on parental influence has helped parents help their kids, preventing children from making choices that can be destructive," Jones said.

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