Spring brings several rites of passage for high school students, culminating in the all-important graduation ceremony that typically serves as the dividing line between adolescence and adulthood. Amid the stresses that frequently accompany that transition comes the biggest formal party that most kids will ever be part of other than their own wedding. Yes, it’s prom season again, bursting with fancy dresses, crisp tuxedos, colorful flowers, and are-they-just-friends drama. It’s also a time when otherwise intelligent young people are tempted to make bad choices.
The “perfect night” that many teens imagine is often marred by tragedy. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15-to-20-year olds and teen traffic deaths are higher during prom season weekends than any other time of the year. An average of 300 young people are killed in alcohol-related crashes from March 1 to May 31, more than half of which involve impaired teenage drivers.
Not only is impaired driving dangerous, but underage drinking is illegal.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse
, close to three-quarters of students have consumed alcohol (more than just a few sips) by the end of high school and about half of adolescents have abused an illicit drug.
A minor charged with a DUI in Kentucky faces up to 30 days in jail, a $200-$500 fine, and a 30- to 120-day license suspension. Insurance companies may choose to terminate the driver’s policy, refuse to renew it or raise the premiums. Depending on the circumstances, an underage drinker can also be charged with other offenses, such as possessing alcohol, soliciting alcohol, having a fake ID, and distributing alcohol to other minors.
Alcohol isn’t the only driving-related issue of concern. Data from the CDC
suggests that teen drivers are more likely than older drivers to underestimate dangerous situations, to not be able to recognize hazardous situations, to speed, and to crash when traveling with teen passengers. Compared with other age groups, teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use. Despite its being illegal and making a crash
up to 23 times more likely, far too many drivers text behind the wheel. While 97 percent of surveyed teens agree that texting while driving is dangerous, 43 percent admit that they do it anyway.
Teens care what their friends are doing, and peer pressure has a huge influence on decision-making. Encourage your children to speak up and remind their friends that behaviors like underage drinking, speeding, and texting while driving
aren’t cool. Help your kids make good prom memories by talking with them about the potential dangers they may encounter and techniques they can use to protect themselves. Common suggestions include:
Prom can be fun without being unsafe.
- Be ready to say “No” to or walk away from the unhealthy expectations that can accompany prom night activities.
- Make a plan in advance and stick to it, which can help avoid poor in-the-moment decisions.
- Peer pressure works both ways. Be a leader by showing others that they can have responsible fun.
- Carry your cell phone on you at all times and keep it fully charged.
- Do not accept drinks from someone you don’t know. If you leave your drink, throw it away and get a new one.
- Do not allow anyone into your car or limo that has alcohol, drugs or weapons.
- Always wear a seat belt.
- Don’t drink and drive, and don’t get in a car with a driver who has been drinking.
- Arrange in advance when you will check in with a parent, guardian, or someone you trust so that they know you are safe. And don’t hesitate to contact them if your plans change or you need help.
- Trust your instincts and if, for any reason, you feel threatened or uncomfortable, leave.
If you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the personal injury
attorneys at the Johnson Law Firm. We have years of experience helping people, and we can help you. We wish everyone a happy and safe prom, and while we hope that the celebration passes without incident, we are here if you need us. Based in Pikeville, KY, we proudly serve communities throughout the Bluegrass State. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, contact us by calling 606-437-4488 or by filling out our online form