“Friends and family members gathered Monday under the tree where two beloved teens were killed in a prom night crash this weekend.” That lead sentence has been repeated in various forms in too many news articles over the years. And it’s one that always sends a chill down any parent’s spine.
It is sad but true that this rite of passage has a self-inflicted dark side. AAA surveyed 1,500 teens (16- to 19-year-olds) in 2015. Thirty-one percent of the high school students said it was likely that they or their friends would be under the influence of drugs or alcohol sometime during prom or graduation season.
Pair that fact with the AAA finding that almost 60 percent of crashes involving teenagers include distracted driving, and you have two of the major reasons that the prom season – 100 days beginning with Memorial Day – is known by AAA and other safety advocacy groups as the “100 Deadliest Days.” Here’s the bottom line for the 100 Deadliest Days, AAA reports:
“The average number of deaths from crashes involving teen drivers ages 16-19 increased by 16 percent per day compared to other days of the year.”
The good news is that once families recognize the problem, they can start taking preventive measures.
Teens and Parents Are the Solution
Keeping your teen safe on prom night is all about communication and role modeling. AAA advises parents to:
- Talk with teens early and often about the dangers of distracted and impaired driving.
- Set family rules about responsible driving.
- Teach by example.
AAA PROMise offers prom night safety tips for parents and schools trying to keep teenagers safe. The push to get schools, parents, and kids to work together toward a safe prom season includes a video presentation to underscore the risks of the 100 Deadliest Days and a free toolkit for schools.
Can parents really make a difference? You bet. According to MADD, children of parents who stress the total unacceptability of underage drinking are 80 percent more likely to abstain than peers whose parents are more casual about alcohol.
For those looking for more detailed tips, Power to the Parent offers a parents’ guide to prom night safety:
Throughout the year …
- Get and stay educated about the drug trends in your community.
- Communicate with the student guidance personnel at your teen’s school.
- Communicate with Parent Teacher Association representatives.
- Attend workshops that address issues young people face with substance abuse.
- Communicate regularly with your teen about the dangers of drinking and drug use.
- Underscore substance abuse risks such as alcohol poisoning.
- Ensure that your teen knows to get help if a friend is in trouble.
- Make sure that your teen knows how to get help if a person who is drinking or doing drugs loses consciousness.
- Tell your teen that if he or she is in a situation where people are hesitant to notify an adult, they can always call Poison Control for anonymous advice at (800) 222-1222.
At least one week before the prom …
- Reinforce that you love your teen and that your primary concern is his or her safety.
- Ask your teenager whether he or she has any concerns about prom night.
- Ask whether there are any after-prom celebrations planned.
- Reassure your teenager that you understand prom night pressures and fears and discuss them.
- Ask your teen to think about these issues and indicate that you would like to continue the discussion.
And if your teen is riding in a limo or party van …
- Talk to the driver about your expectations for an alcohol- and drug-free ride.
- Check the limo to make sure it is drug- and alcohol-free.
- Don’t allow non-alcoholic beverages in the limo if they have been opened.
- Tell the driver that no stops will be allowed while going to or coming from the prom.
Our Dedicated Attorneys Are Always Here to Help
All the worry and effort in the world can’t protect your teen from the negligence of others during prom season. If your teen’s efforts to stay safe fail because of someone else’s bad choices, you need to speak with the compassionate auto accident lawyers at Chiumento Selis Dwyer, P.L., about your rights to seek financial compensation.
Throughout Palm Coast, Ormond Beach, DeLand, and across Florida, families have turned to our highly skilled personal injury attorneys for help after devastating crashes. Contact us today to schedule a free case consultation. Our attorneys are available to meet with you whenever and wherever is most convenient.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
End Distracted Driving
AAA Reveals Top Driving Distractions for Teens as “100 Deadliest Days” Begin