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Guest Column

Don't turn prom night into a nightmare

prom night by the Coalition for Vehicle Choice
   Prom season is around the corner, and thousands of high school students across the state will dress to the hilt to take part in the annual spring rite of celebrating the end of the school year with their friends and classmates.
   In the excitement of getting ready for the "Big Night," parental cautions about drinking and driving are likely to come across as just so much nagging, to be endured along with the picture-taking sessions by gushing moms and dads.
   Tragically, for some families, those pictures will end up as the last happy memory they have of that young man or woman dashing out into a balmy spring evening. Government statistics show that in 1994, more than 1,700 teenage drivers who had been drinking were involved in fatal car crashes, joining the 250,000 people who have been killed and millions more who have been injured in alcohol-related accidents over the last 10 years.
   The "Prom Promise" awareness campaign pomotes alcohol-free prom parties or all-night "lock-ins," places where entertainment and fun activities are provided through the night to keep teens sober and off the roads.
   Besides alcohol, young drivers falling asleep at the wheel after post-prom parties that last into the early hours of the morning are a major danger. Parents should impose curfews or insist on safe travel arrangements for students who plan to party into the wee hours.
   Designated drivers or a parental car pool are good ideas--not just to deter drunk driving, but to ensure that tired teens get home safely.
   Here are four simple messages to emphasize that will help make prom night the memorable experience it should be: