Summer’s coming, and this time of year is especially exciting for juniors and seniors in high school. They’re receiving college acceptance letters, planning for their future, and preparing for some of the biggest nights of their lives.
Yes, we’re talking about prom and graduation.
As a parent, you probably have your own concerns about prom night and graduation. Will your teen be safe on prom night? What dangerous behavior will their friends get into? Do you need to have a “talk” with your teen about drinking and driving?
A sit-down with your teen is a good idea. After all, one-third of all alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes involving teens occur during prom season (April to June). The chance of your teen using drugs and alcohol are higher than you might think, so sit down with them and talk about safety this prom and graduation season.
What To Tell Your Teen about Dangerous Driving in Florida
Fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes are More Common Than You Think
Car crashes are the top killer of teens throughout the United States. In 2016, six teenagers between the ages of 16-19 died due to a motor vehicle accident every single day. This statistic doesn’t just apply to prom season, but the excitement of prom and graduation increases the risk of an accident.
Why? One of the major causes of motor vehicle crashes is driving under the influence. Just one drink can affect your teen’s ability to drive. In 2010, 20% of all teen drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes had alcohol in their blood. The rate of teen driving under the influence has decreased in recent years, but getting drunk on prom night is still a tempting activity for many teens.
Talk to your teens about drinking and driving. Even if your teen engages in one of these activities during prom night, the two should not be mixed. Take your teen’s keys if necessary — and if your teen is having friends over after prom night, confiscate their keys until the morning. Going out for food or sneaking out to an afterparty could put your teen at risk of a serious accident.
Police Will Be Out to Keep Roads Safe
Law enforcement officers are fully aware of the dangers of teen drivers and driving under the influence. They will be patrolling the streets looking for cars that might running red lights, rolling stop signs, or driving recklessly. Talk to your teenager about their rights when they are pulled over and the criminal consequences of driving under the influence.
The .08 BAC rule doesn’t apply to teens under the age of 21 — their rules are far more strict. If your teen is caught with any level of alcohol in their system while they are behind the wheel, they could face serious consequences. No one wants to be on probation during their first few weeks of college.
Talk to your teen about choosing a designated driver for the evening. Whether one of their friends wants to volunteer, or parents are willing to pay for Ubers — or even a limo — a sober driver can help to keep your kids safe this season.
Drinking Isn’t the Only Dangerous Behavior
Teens will likely hear the dangers of drinking and driving over and over again during prom season, but don’t forget to mention other dangerous behaviors.
Distracted driving causes more car crashes in Florida than any other dangerous behavior.
“Distracted driving” is more than just texting, too. Teen drivers are three to five times more likely to get into an accident when they have multiple passengers in the car talking, playing music, or fooling around. Even if your teen isn’t breaking the law as a passenger or a driver, they still could be at risk of an accident.
When your teen chooses a designated driver, tell them to be firm about keeping the music down or keeping passengers well-behaved. No one wants to ruin anyone’s fun, but a motor vehicle crash due to distracting friends in the backseat will ruin a party faster than simply telling them to keep it quiet.
Tell Your Florida Teen Their Options for Getting Home
It’s not enough just to tell your teen that they could be in a dangerous situation. Give your child a plan for finding alternative rides or getting home safely. If you are willing to stay up and drive them home, tell them! Reach out to other parents and create a plan for calling an Uber, confiscating your teen’s keys, and preventing other dangerous behaviors.
If your teen knows that their safety is more important than following the rules, they will be more likely to reach out when faced with a dangerous situation.
Ultimately, make sure that your goal is to help them stay safe so that they can enjoy not only these rites of passage, but the long life they have ahead of them.
If your teen does get injured by a negligent driver this season, don’t be afraid to fight for justice and the compensation that they deserve.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017.