CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 3, 2018) – Prom night is a milestone in most teenagers lives, but unfortunately the special evening usually coincides with alcohol consumption and other dangerous behaviors. With prom season in full swing, AAA Carolinas is warning teens and parents about the deadly consequences facing those who participate in underage drinking and illegal drug use and offering tips to have a safe night.
In a recent AAA survey, nearly 40% of high school teens between 16 and 19 say it’s likely they or their friends would be under the influence of drugs or alcohol sometime during prom night. Also, 87% of those teens surveyed believe they or a friend would drive home drunk rather than call a parent.
“What we want to encourage is crucial conversations between parents and teens about the dangerous situations that could occur on prom night,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas Foundation for Traffic Safety president. “Many times teens are afraid to call home for a safe ride for fear of getting into trouble.”
Here are some tips for parents regarding how to talk to their teens in advance of prom night:
- Let teens know that even if they make a mistake and drink too much, or have a friend who does, you will pick them up anywhere and anytime, without giving them a lecture.
- Have open and casual conversations during other activities (like shopping for the prom dress or tux) so it doesn’t seem like a “big talk.”
- Advise that it is the best choice not to drink alcohol on prom night in order to stay alert to all potential hazards. For example, tell teens to avoid the punch bowl, and not to leave their beverage unattended when heading out to the dance floor or to the bathroom. Rather than set an unfinished beverage down, just toss it out and get a new one. And look out for friends as well.
- Alert them that while the prom itself may be alcohol-free, some teens may sneak alcohol into the dance, or there may be drinking at the prom after-party.
- Empower teens to speak up to keep themselves and others safe. Tell your teens it is OK to tell an impaired friend, “Hey, it’s not cool for you to drive.”
“For many teens, prom may be the first time they ever drink alcohol, and it may also be the first time they are allowed to borrow the family car and drive unchaperoned,” added Wright. “Prom night drinking and driving statistics prove that this combination can create a dangerous scenario.”
Here are a few facts about prom night and teen drinking that are cause for concern:
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 300 teens have died in alcohol-related traffic crashes during prom weekends over the past several years.
- 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.
- NHTSA estimates that every day, 28 people in the U.S. die in an alcohol-related vehicle crash — that’s one person every 53 minutes. While drunk driving fatalities have fallen by about 33% in the last 30 years, the chance of being in an alcohol-impaired crash is still one in three over the course of a lifetime.
- Drivers who mix alcohol and marijuana greatly increase their chance of an accident, because marijuana and alcohol together have “multiplicative effects” on impairment.
- Only 21% of teens have called their parents to pick them up because they or their driver was impaired.
- SADD reports that during the past 30 days, 26.4% of teens (ages 12-20) used alcohol, and 17.4% engaged in binge drinking.
AAA Carolinas offers the following tips for teens on prom night:
- Never drink and drive. Commit to staying sober on prom night. If you find yourself in a situation where alcohol is involved, call a parent or guardian. Don’t get behind the wheel if you or your driver has been drinking.
- Put away distractions behind the wheel. All of your passengers are depending on you to get them to prom safely. If you are a passenger, respect the driver and allow them to dedicate their full attention to the road.
- If hosting a party, be a responsible host. Provide plenty of food for your guests and offer a place to stay for anyone that has been drinking. Do not be afraid to take someone’s keys away.
- If you see something, say something. Be vigilant of what other prom-goers are doing. Never get in the car with someone who has been drinking.
AAA Carolinas, an affiliate of the American Automobile Association, is a not-for-profit organization that serves more than 2.1 million member and the public with travel, automobile and insurance services while being an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.
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