With the last quarter of the school year comes an exciting time for many teens. Their thoughts often turn to prom and getting dressed up in gowns and tuxedos. They feel more grown-up and often plan festivities prior to and after prom. These gatherings which are often held at hotels or homes may include alcoholic beverages. When under the influence of alcohol, teens may make bad decisions and drink and drive. These decisions may land them in emergency rooms or even jail.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the months from April through July, the peak of the prom season, see some of the highest teenage traffic fatalities. The biggest danger facing teens on prom night is auto accidents. These accidents can be caused by drivers who have been drinking, are tired or are distracted by passengers.
Approximately 1,000 youth under age 21 die each year in preventable tragedies while celebrating their high school proms and graduations.
Despite the fact that more teens are involved in fatal traffic accidents related to alcohol during prom season, the majority of high school aged students do not seem to recognize how dangerous it actually is. A Liberty Mutual survey of nearly 2,300 juniors and seniors found that just 20 percent believe being on the roads on prom night is dangerous. Six percent of those surveyed admitted to driving under the influence after prom.
Why don’t teens heed warnings of drinking and driving?
Promises Treatment Centers says that:
- More than 90 percent of teens believe their fellow classmates will likely drink and drive on prom night.
- 36 percent of teens said their parents have allowed them to attend parties where alcohol was present and available.
- 54 percent of students drink more than 4 drinks on prom night.
Experts say that even the horror and heartbreak of fatalities which involve prom night, do not deter teens from drinking. Teens do not think it can happen to them and their friends. Data from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Chrysler Group’s Road Ready Teens program found that 74 percent of teens felt pressured from peers to use alcohol on prom night, and 49 percent said their friends pressured them to try drugs.
Efforts to combat the problem
AAA (American Automobile Association) says that in an effort to help combat the problem, the Auto Club Group Traffic Safety Foundation is offering the AAA PROMise program to protect teens and everyone else on the roadways during the prom and graduation season.
AAA PROMise asks teens to make the responsible decision never to get behind the wheel impaired and to make sure their friends do the same. Parents should reinforce with their teen that nothing is more important than his/her safety. If a teen needs help getting home and reaches out to his/her parents, AAA can be there to tow the family vehicle home.
By making the AAA PROMise, teens commit to making the right decision when it comes to underage drinking, drugs and impaired driving. Here is the PROMise:
- I promise not to drink alcohol or take drugs.
- I promise not to drive impaired.
- I promise not to let my friends drive impaired.
- I promise my parents I will get home safely or call them for help.
Other strategies suggested by SaferCommunity.net to keep your children safe during prom and graduation season:
- Make sure your child has a plan for the evening and that you know it.
- Know all of the "hot spot" destinations.
- Know who is driving - if it's a limo, see if they will ban alcohol in the limo.
- Make sure that alcohol is not brought into your home or onto your property by your child's friends.
- Give your child a curfew.
- Communicate with other parents and school officials.
- Encourage seatbelt use.
- Refuse to supply alcohol to youth.
- Emphasize that drinking is illegal at this age; alcohol abuse is dangerous and that drinking is unacceptable to you.
- Stay up for prom-goers until they return home.
“We at Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. encourage parents and guardians to support teens in making good choices during this time of their lives. Should they be injured in an accident, we are here to support you and them,” said Attorney Randall Spivey.
Hurt By Drunk Driver Attorney, Randall L. Spivey is a Board Certified Trial Attorney – the highest recognition for competence bestowed by the Florida Bar and a distinction earned by just one (1%) percent of Florida attorneys. He has handled over 2,000 personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout Florida. For a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights, contact the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A., in Lee County at 239.337.7483 or toll free at 1.888.477.4839,or by email to Randall@SpiveyLaw.com. Visit SpiveyLaw.com for more information. You can contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.in Charlotte County at 941.764.7748 and in Collier County 239.793.7748.