High School Prom is a milestone to be celebrated. Families gather in living rooms and front lawns taking pictures and creating special memories. Teens have the opportunity to have a very special and memorable evening celebrating with friends. It’s often also the night when many teens are permitted to borrow the family car and drive unchaperoned for the first time or ride in a friend’s car to and from this night to remember. Between the excitement of hair styles, corsages, dates and friends, it’s sometimes difficult for teens to focus on important safety decisions. It’s also often difficult for parents to walk the line as protector and teacher while being the “cool” mom or dad. Some simple tips, discussions and reminders may make a world of difference.
Statistically, prom represents a sharp increase in teen fatality and injuries related to automobile accidents.
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that the months from April thru July see some of the highest teenage traffic fatalities of the entire year.
- Approximately 300 teens have died in alcohol-related traffic accidents during prom weekends over the past several years, according to the NHTSA.
- A survey of teens aged 16-19, published by AAA, found that 31% to 41% of teens said that it was likely that they or their friends would use drugs or alcohol on prom night.
- Statistics show that roughly one-third of alcohol-related teen traffic fatalities occur between April and June – the peak of prom and graduation season.
Parents struggle with words of caution vs. encouragement and celebration in so many situations, but there are some common safety tips you may want to consider discussing with your teen. Every family is unique and it’s important to reflect your own personal values and opinions to your teen through effective communication.
- Show you disapprove of underage drinking—send a clear and strong message
- Show you care about your child’s happiness and well-being—the conversation will go much better if you’re working with, not against, your child
- Show you’re a good source of information about alcohol—you want to establish yourself as a trustworthy source of information, you don’t want your child to learn about alcohol from their friends, the internet or the media
Alcohol or substance abuse isn’t the only factor that can ruin a celebration like prom. There are some other things to consider to help make sure everyone has a safe and enjoyable evening. You could consider discussing all or some of these items with your teen driver:
- Never, ever text and drive. Avoid using your mobile phone while driving.
- Drive on well-lit roads in known areas if possible.
- Make sure that your driver does not consume any alcohol. Alcohol impairs vision and slows reaction time, clear thinking, judgment, and coordination.
- During weekends, there tend to be more drunk drivers on roads. Always watch for oncoming drivers, as impaired drivers tend to drive toward lights.
- Before you leave home, have directions to where you are going on prom night.
- After your red light turns green, wait a second before pulling into the intersection to ensure that other drivers are not running the light.
- Keep the radio volume turned low enough so the driver can concentrate on getting you to and from the fun.
- Do not allow anyone in your car or limo that has alcohol. It is dangerous and everyone in the car is at risk of being arrested.
Prom Season is a wonderful time of year! Be safe and enjoy a opportunity to create lasting memories for you and your teen.
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