Don't turn prom night into a nightmare
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:
- Keep it alcohol-free. Sponsors of proms and post-prom parties must ensure that no alcohol is served to minors and take firm steps to prevent it from being brought in. Older guests and chaperones should set a good example by not drinking alcohol either during these functions.
- Don't drink and drive. Don't drink and drive. Don't drink and drive. This message cannot be repeated enough. Don't let anyone drive who has been drinking. Refuse to ride with anyone who has. Party sponsors can help by providing no-hassle, cost-free rides.
- No sleepy drivers. Make proper arrangements if a prom party if expected to go late into the night or early morning. Let your teens know that it's OK to call home any time to a safe ride--whatever the reason.
- Drive defensively and always wear your safety belt. Even if your teen is safe and sober, there will be plenty of others on the road who are not. Defensive driving skills are a must. And buckling up is the law in our state.