Prom and graduation are rites of passage for teens transitioning into adulthood. They are important to both teens and their parents, but while teens tend to be wholly focused on the celebratory aspects, parents know that prom and graduation also represent a time ripe with the opportunity for their teens to make unwise choices. Teen driving, alcohol, and peer pressure often collide to contribute to the high rate of injuries and death for teens this time of year. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens and that one out of three of those crashes involves alcohol.
There are certain safety tips that parents can take advantage of to decrease the likelihood that their teens will be involved in a car crash the night of prom or graduation. By far, the best tip is to talk frankly with them about the dangers of reckless driving, alcohol, and following the crowd. Our parents may have simply given us the “If all of your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” talk, but today’s teens are in many ways more sophisticated than their parents. Through the internet and social media, carried around daily in their pockets on smart phones, they encounter peer pressure that previous generations never even fathomed.
So, take the time to talk to your kids about what to expect on prom and graduation nights, and please follow these safety tips:
- Set rules in place to limit distractions while driving. This involves limiting the number of passengers in a teen-driven car and reminding your teen driver not to text or talk on the phone while on the road.
- Know who is driving your teen. The night of prom or graduation, will another teen be driving? A parent? An older sibling? Make sure your own teen has enough money to cover a cab or rideshare home if their driver consumes alcohol, or knows they can call you for an alternate ride.
- Set strict no drinking and no drug rules. While this is a no-brainer, it’s important to stress these rules to your teen and consider setting up a safety word they can text to you if they find themselves in an environment where they are being pressured to drink or try drugs.
- Set and maintain a curfew. Choose an hour with your teen that you’re comfortable with and get their promise to come home on time. If they ask for a time extension during the night, be sure to ask questions about where they are, who they are with, and when they will be home.
- Don’t rent hotel rooms without adult supervision. Renting a hotel room for teens to hang out in after prom or graduation has become popular in recent years, but it often leads to drinking, drug use, and sexual peer pressure. Make sure any hotel your teen will be hanging out in has adult supervision at all times and get the contact information for the adult in charge.
California has strict laws regarding distracted or drunken drivers. While Steinberg Injury Lawyers hopes that you and your teen will follow these safety tips and have a safe and happy celebration, should you find yourself or your child injured on the road because of another driver’s distracted or impaired driving, please call us at 1-800-350-8888 so we can help. Free consultations are available.