Every year, prom proves to be a special night for teens to celebrate the end of the school year with friends. However, it can also turn deadly, as teens face additional risk factors with the celebrations at hand. With prom season upon us, AAA East Central reminds parents and teens to take steps to avoid preventable and potentially deadly crashes caused by alcohol or distracted driving.
“There’s no reason prom shouldn’t be a fun time for teens, but with the increased risks, preemptive steps need to be taken,” says Theresa Podguski, director of legislative affairs for AAA East Central. “We encourage parents to talk with their sons and daughters about the potential dangers they face behind the wheel, or with other teens behind the wheel.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), between 2013 and 2017, there were an average of 161 teen drivers ages 16-18 involved in fatal crashes each year in the month of May. Moreover, more than 79,000 teen drivers were involved in non-fatal crashes during the month in 2016, which is the most recent year for which data are available.
While these figures are shocking, they are no surprise. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, teens face the following risks during prom:
- Alcohol or other drugs are often involved in the celebration.
- Multiple teens often drive together, creating a greater risk of speeding, distraction, and not wearing seatbelts.
- Teens are driving at night, which is a more dangerous time of the day for young and less experienced drivers.
Tips for Parents:
- Talk with your teens about the dangers of driving drunk or distracted, and encourage them to speak up when they see a peer engaging in dangerous behavior.
- Make sure you know where your child is going before and after the prom.
- Don’t allow too many prom-goers in one vehicle to limit distractions.
Tips for Teens:
- Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated. The results can be equally as devastating.
- Be prepared to deal with the pressures that come with the responsibility of driving.
- Avoid driving drowsy, which can be just as dangerous as driving drunk or distracted.
- Know where you are going, what you are doing, and keep your parents informed.
- Take a pair of comfortable shoes to change into for driving; fancy high heels or bulky dress shoes that you aren’t accustomed to can make the task more difficult.