Emily stole one last glance in the mirror before heading downstairs to greet Kyle, her prom date. Her dress sparkled in the lights and the jeweled earrings glistened in the mirror. Her hairdresser had outdone himself with the soft ringlets that framed her youthful face.
She had been planning for prom night over the last several months. Her elegant strappy sandals matched her dress perfectly. She flipped off the light switch and made her way down the stairs. Her breath stopped in her throat when she caught a glimpse of Kyle eagerly awaiting her descent.
The couple had a night full of planned events, beginning with the photographer, then off to the restaurant to meet a group of friends, before making their way to the prom. The after-prom was the best part, the parties.
Emily kissed her father and mother on the cheek as she walked to the shiny sports car parked in the drive. Little did her parents know the evening that held so much excitement had the potential of being one of the most dangerous nights of their little girl's life...
As hundreds of thousands of teens prepare for the big evening, there is some sobering information that parents should know before sending their child out the door. Below are the dangers associated with that much awaited for dance - prom.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
While spring is the hallmark of many teen celebrations (graduation and prom), it can also be a very dangerous time in a teen’s life.
While spring is the hallmark of many teen celebrations (graduation and prom), it can also be a very dangerous time in a teen’s life. -Raychelle LohmannAccording to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the months of April through June are some of the most dangerous times of the year for teens. Approximately one-third of alcohol-related traffic fatalities involving teens occur between these months.
Vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death for young people aged 12 to 19. Prom night can be a particularly dangerous time with so many teens on the road late at night. A survey conducted by Liberty Mutual found that only 20% of juniors and seniors believed being on the roads on prom night was dangerous. If only they knew that approximately 1,000 youth under age 21 die each year in preventable tragedies while celebrating their high school proms and graduations (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Drug and Alcohol Use
Not all teens make poor decisions on prom night, but many do. A lot of teens are looking for an opportunity to party and prom night provides the perfect storm for a catastrophic event to occur.
A study by AAA surveyed teens aged 16-19 and found that 31% of teens reported it was likely that they or their friends would use drugs or alcohol during prom graduation season. Approximately 53% of teens who admitted to drinking during or after the prom said they consumed four or more alcoholic beverages, and some get behind the wheel.
Drinking and Driving on Prom Night
According to AAA, 87% of teens reported their friends would be more likely to drive after drinking than to call home for a ride (especially if they thought they would get in trouble). Also alarming is that approximately 19% of teens said they have ridden with someone who had been drinking rather than calling their parents to come and get them. Thirty percent of teens know other peers who have gotten DUIs for impaired driving.
Parents - please make sure your teen knows to not get behind the wheel if they have been drinking and not to get in the car with someone who has been.
Peer acceptance can affect a teen’s decision-making skills, and that includes decisions to drink and take drugs.
Data from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Chrysler Group's Road Ready Teens program found that 74% of teens felt pressured from peers to use alcohol on prom night and 49% said their friends pressured them to try drugs on prom night. These statistics show the power of peer influence and how heavily it weighs on the life of a teen.
Many teens report getting alcohol from parents. Approximately 25% of teens (ages 12 to 20 years) report getting alcohol from adults such as parents other family members (SAMHSA). However, parents can be a strong determinant in whether or not their kids drink.
According to MADD, teens whose parents view underage drinking as unacceptable are 80% less likely to drink compared to peers whose parents are less strict. So, clearly parents have power in affecting the decisions their teen makes.
...teens whose parents view underage drinking as unacceptable are 80% less likely to drink -Raychelle Lohmann
On a Final Note
Parents - take time to speak with your teen about making wise choices on prom night. This is a special and memorable time in your teen’s life. It should be one of fun, excitement, and safety. Don’t assume your teen won’t be faced with a potentially life-altering decision.
It’s better to exercise caution and cover the basics of drugs and alcohol use on prom night. As statistics show, your opinion does matter. Don’t let an opportunity to educate your teen about the dangers of drugs and alcohol use pass you by.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/teen_drivers/teendrivers_factsheet.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System 2013 YRBS Data User’s Guide [Online]. (2014). National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health. http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/yrbs/pdf/YRBS_2013_National_User_Guide.pdf
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Fatality facts: teenagers 2013. Arlington (VA): The Institute; 2013. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/teenagers/fatalityfacts/teenagers
Mothers Against Drunk Driving http://www.madd.org/statistics/
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Dept. of Transportation (US). Traffic safety facts 2012: Speeding. Washington (DC): http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812021.pdf.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Dept. of Transportation (US). Traffic safety facts 2012: Young Drivers. Washington (DC): NHTSA; April 2014. http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812019.pdf
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration http://www.samhsa.gov/
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