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Prom Night Safety: No Drinking and Driving

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. In 2009, about 3,000 teens in the United States aged 15-19 were killed in a car crash and more than 350,000 were seriously injured. While people between the ages of of 15 and 24 represent only 14 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 30 percent ($19 billion) of the total costs of motor-vehicle related injures among males and 28 percent ($7 billion) of the total costs of motor-vehicle injuries among females.In addition to talking to your teens about making responsible decisions, like abstaining from drugs and/or alcohol on prom night, one of the most important issues to be addressed are the consequences of drinking and driving.Because of their inexperience on the road, teens have a higher risk of being in an accident, higher than any other age group. In fact, teens from 16 – 19 years old are four times more likely to crash when compared to older drivers. This risk for an accidentincreases with the presence of unsupervised teen drivers, especially at night.So before your teen heads out to their prom, talk to them about driving safety and give them tips on how to have a safe, memorable and fun prom.Here are five driving safety tips you should share with your teen:

1. Take Extra Care at Night

Driving at night can be difficult, especially after an exhausting night of fine dining and dancing. In fact, studies show that traffic death rates are almost three times higher at night than during the day. In addition to being able to see less at night, your depth perception and peripheral vision are also limited at night. Because of this, you should remind your teen to take particular caution and to always buckle up, use their headlights and avoid any and all distractions.

2. Put Down the Phone

Studies have shown that texting while driving increases the likelihood of an accident six fold compared to driving without distractions. In addition to slowing your teen’s reaction time and increasing their risk for an accident, texting while driving is actually illegal in many states. Currently, 31 states, in addition to D.C. and Guam, have banned texting while driving and in 27 of these states, D.C. and Guam have primary enforcement, meaning an officer may cite a driver for using a cell phone without any other traffic offense occurring.

3. Driving Distractions

While cell phones can be distracting, one of the biggest distractions for a teen driver is conversing with other passengers in the car. While it’s unrealistic to expect as group of teenagers to sit silently in a car, remind your teen that, if they are driving, they should be responsible and focus on the road first before engaging in a conversation with his/her passengers. And if your teen is getting a ride somewhere, talk to them about being a good passenger and avoiding sudden noises, shouting or other actions that could distract their driver.

4. Alcohol and Driving

Many teenagers do drink on prom night, and while you should talk to your child about abstaining from alcohol until they are of the legal age, it’s important also to be realistic. Remind your teen about the dangers of drinking and driving — even after just one drink –  and instruct them on what to do if they suspect their driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Consider giving your teen extra cash, in case they need to call a cab to get home safely.

5. In Case of an Emergency

While everyone knows to call 9-11 in case of a life-threatening emergency, you should also provide your teen instructions on what do in case their car breaks down or they get into an accident. Consider watching Allstate’s video series on what to do in unexpected car-related emergency.

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