McCoy & Hiestand Attorneys at Law

Prom season is upon us and teens everywhere are preparing for the big night. It should be unforgettable, but for all the right reasons.

Teenagers are inherently more likely to be in a crash than their older counterparts, with the fatal crash rate 4 times higher for 16-19 year old males and 3 times higher for females. Along with their age, crashes are also more likely to happen at night and on the weekend. Out of all vehicle deaths involving a teenager, 54% occurred on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.  In 2013, 27% of fatal teen motor vehicle accidents occurred in April, May, and June, the peak of prom season, accounting for the deaths of 676 teens.  With the odds stacked against them it’s important for parents to remind their teens of a few safety precautions.

  • Limit the number of kids in the car.
    • According to AAA, researchers have found that teens are five times more likely to be in a fatal crash when two or more teen passengers are present compared to when teens drive alone.
  • Insist that everyone wears a seat belt even if it means wrinkling their clothes.
  • Remind your teen the importance of concentration behind the wheel.
    • A survey taken in 2014 revealed that around 41.4% of high school students admitted to regularly texting or emailing while driving.
  • Explain the importance of driving defensively on a night when the accident rate is high.
  • Discuss the dangers of drinking and driving.
    • Driving while under the influence can slow down reaction time, alter perception, and lead to higher risk of accidents.
      • Even a small amount of alcohol can affect driving ability — 1,764 people were killed in 2014 in alcohol-related crashes where the driver’s blood-alcohol level (BAC) was less than 0.08.
  • Point out that they will be dressed in unfamiliar clothing and not wearing comfortable shoes. That might inhibit reaction time while driving.
  • If you have given your teenager an extended curfew, discuss how fatigue can also cause accidents.

Along with reminding your teen of the basic safety rules there are a few things you should check off your list.

  • Be sure your teen has a fully charged cellphone with them.
  • Know where are they are going, at what time, and who will be there.
  • Decide on a curfew that is equal to your teenager’s level of responsibility.
  • Express your trust in them while discussing the dangers they might encounter.

The most difficult part of these conversations may be the most important. While you hope that your teen will abstain from underage drinking you also need to give them a safe option if they decide to partake.

More than 85% of teens say they or their peers are likely to drive impaired instead of calling their parents for help because they are afraid of getting in trouble. Letting your teen know that their life is the most important factor could be the difference between celebration and a tragedy.


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