According to the Centers for Disease Control, motor vehicle accidents are the number one killer of teens in the United States. As we get into the peak of the 2016 prom season, it’s important for parents and teens to work together to make sure that everyone comes home safely from the dance.
Here are some safety and planning tips to make this prom a memorable one, for the right reasons.
Practice! Has your teen ever driven the route from home to their date’s house, to the restaurant, to the school (or prom location), and back? If prom is being held in a downtown area, have they driven and tried to park there before? At night? There’s a big difference between driving a route after school in the daylight and driving it at night.
Take a test drive in advance. Make sure it’s around the same time of day that they’ll be driving to and from the dance, so they’ll be comfortable with the route, the road, and the lighting conditions.
Emergency Plan. Teens are often afraid to look like a tattle tale and may not take the right action, even when they don’t feel safe. It’s a good idea to establish a code word that they can text or use in a phone call to alert you that they need to be picked up right away. Take the time before prom to work out the details, so that both you and your teen know the plan before you need it.
There are several, free safety apps that can notify friends or family when you need immediate help or feel you are in a dangerous situation. Here is a review of a few of these apps where you can find out if any are of value to you.
A suggestion from one of our Claims Managers here at Maryland Auto, is to have a family friend available if your teen needs a ride. Teens may be hesitant to call Mom and Dad for fear of getting in trouble, so having someone else who they trust may help them feel more comfortable calling for a ride.
Charge! Taking pics, videos, and posting Snapchats from the dance can kill a battery quickly. Teens should take their charger with them. Parents should also have the cell phone numbers of everyone their teen will be with before and after prom.
Curfew. Make sure that your teen and their date know what time they are expected home. Since most young drivers are still on provisional driver’s licenses, the curfew built into the rules of the license make it easy to set that time. When you take the test drive of the route, make sure your teen driver knows how much time he or she must allow to drop off their date and to get home safely before curfew
Buckle Up. “The seat belt is wrinkling my dress,” or “it’s crushing my suit jacket” are not excuses to skip wearing a seat belt. Seat belts save lives and wearing them is mandated by the law – so click it or get a ticket.
No Texting and Driving! According to Distraction.gov, ten percent of all drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the crashes. Make sure that your teens know to Park The Phone when driving, or if they’re the passenger, to say something to the driver or offer to send the text for them.
No Alcohol or Drugs! It goes without saying that anyone attending prom is too young to drink. Regardless of age, it’s illegal to drink or use drugs and drive. However, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 22% of the young drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2010 had been drinking. Make sure your teen knows not to get into a car with anyone who has been drinking or is otherwise impaired, under any circumstances. Teens may feel pressure to get in the car with their date or whoever drove them to the dance, especially if it’s getting close to curfew. Remind them that this is exactly the scenario that the emergency plan (above) is for, and to call or text.
After Party? It’s important to know where your teen and their date or friends are going after the dance. Is there a party and will there be adult supervision? Make sure to touch base with the parents of the party host to make sure that there will be no alcohol available and exchange contact information. It’s always a good idea to talk with the parents of your teen’s date & friends to make sure that the plans and timeline you’ve been given mesh with what they’ve heard.
No Heavy Eyelids. Many schools host official after-prom parties. Though these keep the attendees from drinking and driving, they can create a different type of hazard. If the driver has been up all night at prom and the after party then gets behind the wheel in the early morning, they risk falling asleep while driving. Make sure your teen knows not to drive if they feel too sleepy. Drowsy driving is just as dangerous as distracted or drunk driving!
With good communication, a little planning, firm expectations & guidelines, and lots of cooperation, parents and teens can both have a fun, memorable, and safe prom night.