High school prom is a milestone that can create memories for years to come, as young people dress up for an evening of dinner, dancing and parties. But along with the fun, there can be challenges to making sure the event is safe and healthy.
Parents can help teens understand decisions made on Prom Night can have life-long consequences, especially decisions about saying no to alcohol and drugs.
“Research tells us that teens do listen to their parents. Have a conversation about staying safe before the big prom or graduation night,” says Dr. Stefan Buca, MD, an emergency physician at JPS Health Network.
Prom night can be particularly tricky for teen drivers, who may be excited and distracted, driving late at night and wearing unfamiliar clothing that can slow reaction time. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death of teenagers, so parents and teens alike must take steps to be safe when heading to and returning from the festivities.
Prom safe driving tips:
· Encourage teens who are passengers to speak up if the driver is using a cell phone. Have a “designated texter.”
· Limit the number of passengers in the vehicle. The more teen passengers in one car, the higher the crash risk. Teen drivers often pay more attention to passengers than driving conditions.
· Always wear seat belts.
· Talk about ways to resist peer pressure to drink, use drugs or do any activity they are not comfortable with.
· Before the event, have a plan in place to get home safe so teens aren’t stuck with a driver who is impaired.
· If the students are taking a limousine, make sure there is no alcohol inside and that the driver is instructed to not make stops along the way.
· Check to make sure after-prom parties are properly supervised and alcohol free.
For information about safety while driving or riding in a car with a teen driver, check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. The federal agency has resources for parents, including a downloadable Parent-Teen Driving Agreement that lets you put your rules in writing to clearly set expectations and limits.
In addition, here is a brochure with tips for parents and teens on having a safe and sober prom night.