Toledo, OH - April 13, 2018 –Teens donning tuxedos and beautiful gowns signal the start of prom season at Northwest Ohio area high schools. As parents and teens create the last minute prom to-do lists (pick up tuxedo, make hair appointments, choosing perfect location for pictures) don’t forget to place “safe driving reminder” at the top of the list.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States and there are a multitude of risks associated with prom night festivities including nighttime driving, additional teen passengers and impaired driving.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teens are more likely than anyone else to be killed in an alcohol-related crash. In 2016, almost one out of five teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking. Even though the minimum legal drinking age in every state is 21, data shows 16 percent of 15- to 18-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2016 had been drinking.
“Prom night is great opportunity for teens to get dressed up for a night on the town with their friends,” said AAA Public Affairs Manager, Cindy Antrican. “Unfortunately, it is also a night where tragedy can strike and change a teen’s future due to risky behavior such as driving while impaired or distracted.”
Research conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has identified several factors that increase the danger to teen drivers and their passengers:
- Nearly two-thirds of people injured or killed in a crash involving a teen driver are people other than the teen behind the wheel (i.e. other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, etc.)
- Nighttime driving, especially between the hours of 9 pm and midnight can be risky and 75 percent of all of Ohio teen night-time crashes occur between 9 pm and midnight.
- Distraction was a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes. The most frequent potentially-distracting behaviors were conversing or otherwise interacting with passengers and cell phone use.
Recognizing these risk factors can be useful in creating a safe driving plan for teens (both drivers and passengers) planning to attend prom this spring.
AAA offers the following tips:
- Develop a safe driving plan: AAA encourages parents to make a safe driving plan with their teen, set a reasonable time to return home and talk with them about potential risks such as driving with a passenger and also while impaired or distracted.
- Discuss prom plans with other parents. Don't assume all parents share your values and will monitor your teen's actions as you would expect. Exchange phone numbers and talk with other parents and your teen's friends to ensure ample communication.
- Limit the number of passengers in a vehicle. Parents should limit the number of teens in the vehicle to the driver and one passenger. The teens may have plans to go “as a group” but they should drive in separate vehicles and enjoy the “group” when they reach their destinations (pictures, dinner, prom and after prom).
- Say No to Alcohol. Remind your teen that it is against the law for anyone under the age of 21 to consume alcohol. Encourage teens to be prepared to appropriately handle peer pressure to drink alcohol by saying no. Do not serve alcohol to your teen or any other teen in your home.
- Don’t drive while impaired, distracted or drowsy:
- Remind teen passengers not to create distractions for the driver. No cell phone use while driving. Keep your eyes on the road and limit passenger interaction.
- Remind your teen that safe, responsible drivers do not combine drinking and driving.
- Remind your teen to not drive if they are drowsy after a long night of dancing. Sleepiness can slow reaction time, decrease awareness, and impair judgement.
- Remember defensive driving skills: teens will be on the road on a weekend night with adult drivers who may be driving impaired (from alcohol or drugs). They need to be attentive and watch for other drivers who may not be driving safely.
Additional safe driving tips for teens and parents can be found at www.teendriving.aaa.com.
AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and more than three million members in Ohio. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. AAA is a non-stock, non-profit corporation working on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.AAA.com.