One of the best things a parent can experience is seeing their child all dressed up and ready for prom. The dinner, the dance and the pictures all remind us that our child is growing up. It’s an exciting time but it can also be a very dangerous one, especially on the roads.
Teen drivers are not known for being safe drivers. In fact, car crashes remain the No. 1 cause of death among teenagers. Add in friends, excitement, dates, and the temptation to drink before getting behind the wheel, and you only intensify the problem. But it’s not only alcohol and drugs that can cause an accident. Texting, talking or cell phone use while driving is fast becoming one of the country’s most dangerous activities. So how can you keep your teen driver from being in a car accident this prom season?
Talk to your teen about drunk driving. Let him/her know that car crashes involving teens and alcohol tend to be more serious and even deadly. Talk to your teen openly about drug use and the very real consequences of using drugs and driving. Remind your child of the legal consequences of DUI. Discuss whether he/she has felt peer pressure to try drugs alcohol and give your teen strategies for saying “no” or avoiding the issue altogether. Ask your teen to make a promise to you that he or she will not drive impaired or let a friend drive impaired.
Don’t forget to talk to your teen about the dangers of texting or using the cell phone while driving, as well. Consider hiring a limo or Uber driver for before and after prom, if you can afford it. And finally, let your teen know that your top priority is making sure he/she gets home safely.
If your teen does decide to drive, give your child reassurance that you will help without overreacting if he or she gets into a situation that may be risky. Make sure your teen knows that you will always be there for him or her, no matter what. Most teens would rather risk a potentially dangerous car ride than get into serious trouble with their parents. So make a plan– before prom night– to come and drive your teen if he/she, or the friend who is driving, is impaired, without a huge scene. And if you are called upon to make good on that plan, accept that your child made a mistake-underage drinking-but then made a responsible decision by calling you, and agree to deal with consequences later.
Research shows that making a plan beforehand, greatly improves your teen’s chances of arriving home safe and sound. So, let your teen know that you want him/her to have a wonderful time, and then make an emergency plan to ensure that he or she comes home to tell you all about it.