Prom Season is upon us!  Prom means lots of new and exciting activities and experiences for teens.  Often times for the parents, PROM = WORRIES!  Well here are few tips that may help to alleviate those worries and keep those kids safe on Prom Night!

Every year we hear about auto accidents on Prom Night.  Every year we hear about another tragic and terrible injury or death.  I have seen the damage that auto accidents can cause.  Helping your child understand what is at stake can help them to avoid the pitfalls of Prom Night such as drinking, drugs, distracted driving, and drunk drivers.

Please don’t underestimate the potential for a prom night car accident. If you’re a parent of a teenager, consider this:

  • More than half of students admit to consuming more than four drinks on prom night.
  • And a whopping 90 percent of teenagers believe their classmates will likely drink on prom night.

As we get into the peak of Prom Season, it is 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 for parents and teens to help make this prom a memorable one, for the right reasons.

Before Prom:

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? Have they driven it at night? If the Prom is being held in a downtown area, have they driven to or tried to park there before?

There’s a big difference between driving a route after school in the daylight, and driving it at night.

Take a test drive with them 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 and the road and lighting conditions.

Coded Emergency Plan. Often, teens are afraid to look like a ‘tattle tail’ or a ‘buzz kill’ and may not take 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.

A suggestion is to have a family friend available if your teen needs a ride. If they’re hesitant to call Mom and Dad for fear of getting in trouble, having someone else who they can trust may help make your teen more likely to do the right thing.

Make sure to account for a dead cell phone battery. Teens should take their car charger with them. Parents should also have the cell phone numbers of everyone their teen will be with before and after prom, so they can be reached through their friends’ phones. Teens should also know before they head out to the dance that if their phone dies, they need to check in with you at regular intervals.

Curfew. Make sure that your teen and their date know what time each are expected home. Since most teens 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 they understand the timing of the drive and how much time they need to allow to drop off their date and to get home safely before curfew. (And remind them to allow extra travel time if it’s raining…or for that awkward ‘good night’ moment).

Buckle Up.The seat belt is wrinkling my dress.” “…it’s crushing my corsage!” These aren’t excuses to skip the seat belt. If you are involved in an accident on the way to dinner or prom, that seat belt can mean the difference between getting there late and never getting there at all. Also, it’s the law. Click it or ticket.

No Texting and Driving! 40% of teens admit that they’ve been in a car with a teen driver who has used a cell phone in a way that has put them in danger. Make sure that your teen knows to put the phone away whenever they’re driving. Or if they’re the passenger, to say something to the driver or offer to send the text for them. (And just a hint for the guys: your date doesn’t want to compete with your cell phone for your attention…not in the car, at dinner, or at prom. So do yourself a favor and leave the phone in your pocket…Unless your parents are calling. Then, definitely answer it. Just not while you’re driving).

After Prom:

No Alcohol or Drugs! It goes without saying that anyone attending a high school prom is too young to drink…and regardless of your age, it’s illegal to drink or use drugs and drive. Nevertheless, 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.

They may feel pressure to get in the car with their date or whoever drove them to the dance or party, especially if it’s getting close to curfew. Remind them that this is exactly the scenario that the Emergency Plan is intended for, and to call or text.

This also goes for parents! If you’re playing chauffeur and will be shuttling teens to and from the dance, make sure you don’t have a glass or two of wine or a beer while you’re waiting for that call to come pick them up.

After Party? It’s important to know where your teens and their dates are going after the dance. Is there a party? 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.

Know your teen’s plans and timeline for the night, and make sure they stick to it. It’s always a good idea to talk with the parents of your teen’s date (or the group of friends they’re going to the dance with) to make sure that the plans and timeline you’ve been given mesh with what the other parents have 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 hazard. If the driver has been up all night at Prom and then the after party, and tries to drive home at 5:00am, they risk falling asleep at the wheel. Make sure your teen knows not to drive if they feel too sleepy, or to allow their date to drive if they think he or she is too tired. That is just as dangerous as texting or drinking and driving!

We hope this prom season is a safe and happy one for the students in our area. However, we know that no matter how prepared you are, no matter how many precautions you take, car accidents can still happen.

If you or someone you care about has been seriously injured in a motor vehicle crash, we can help you. Call The Law Office of R. Christopher Leone, LLC today for a free case review. We’re available 24/7, there’s never an obligation to use our services, and there’s never a fee unless we get money for you.

Sometimes, in trying to make sure our teens have a special and memorable prom night, we miss the most important details. Too many teens never make it home from prom.

However, with good communication, a little planning, firm expectations and guidelines, and lots of cooperation, parents and teens can both have a fun, memorable, and safe prom night.