Prom and graduation are times to celebrate and make lasting memories. But, all too often, that special night out may be the first time your teen tries alcohol or is in a car with friends who are drinking. A survey found that 39% of high school teenagers said it’s likely they or their friends will use drugs or alcohol during prom and graduation season. The majority of teens who admitted to drinking during or after the prom also admitted that they had four or more alcoholic beverages, according to a Liberty Mutual survey.
If you or your loved one have been injured in a car accident involving a drunk driver, we strongly urge you to contact an experienced personal injury attorney today. An attorney familiar with injury accidents caused by intoxicated drivers, and with “dram shop” laws related to bars or social hosts illegally serving alcohol (such as serving to those under age 21), will be able to identify all defendants in the case.
Keeping teen drivers safe as they explore their new freedoms requires both education and positive reinforcement when it comes to drinking and driving.
It’s important that young people learn that no amount of intoxication is safe for a driver behind the wheel.
In 2016, more than 2,000 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes where the drivers had blood alcohol levels of 0.01 to 0.07, well under the legal impairment limit of .08. Even low-level impairment is especially dangerous for teens because young people are inexperienced drivers. While teens make up only 8% of drivers, they cause 15% of all crashes. In fact, car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens. The average age for children first consuming alcohol is years before most of them begin to drive: 14, according to an AAA survey. About a quarter of teen crashes involve an underage drinking driver, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). About one-third of all alcohol-related teen fatalities take place from April through June, when most proms and graduations take place.
Sharing these sobering statistics with your teenager isn’t enough, however. According to AAA, 87% of teens believe their peers are likely to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol rather than call a parent for a ride because they are afraid of getting into trouble. While your firm disapproval of underage drinking may influence your teen not to use alcohol, that message needs to be paired with another, just as clear: If your teen or his friends do drink, he must call you for a ride, rather than climb behind a wheel while impaired. In exchange, you will pick him up without subjecting him to reprimands.
As adults, we know that there are more drunk drivers on the roads over holidays such as Fourth of July and Memorial Day weekends. We have to explain to teens that prom and graduation season are similar high-risk travel times, with more inexperienced, and possibly impaired, drivers on the road. It’s an especially important time for teenagers to drive cautiously, without distractions such as cell phones, blaring music, or a car full of boisterous passengers.
Besides Rochester, we serve the following major southeast Minnesota cities: Red Wing, Winona, Mankato, Austin, Albert Lea, and Owatonna, and all outlying communities, as well as the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Bloomington. We also serve the Iowa cities of Mason City, Charles City, Osage, Spencer, Garner, Forest City, and Northwood and the Wisconsin cities of La Crosse, Onalaska, Sparta, Viroqua, River Falls, Ellsworth, Whitehall, and Black River Falls.
*A note about language:
Federal agencies involved in traffic safety have banned use of the word “accident” for more than 20 years, and with good reason. However, we use the word “accident” on our website, even though we know it has implications that run contrary to our professional thinking and training, because we recognize that “accident” is the word most commonly used in online searches when people are looking for help after being injured in a crash. If you’d like more information about this topic, please see our blog, “Car Accident or Car Crash?”