Prom night

Help the teens in your life steer clear of prom-night perils

When you were a teen, did you imbibe on prom night? In a recent PEMCO Poll, 20% of Washington respondents admitted they drank something stronger than punch. Among Oregonians, the figure was 18%.

That’s a sobering thought, since we now know that April, May, and June prom and graduation time can be dangerous for teen drivers. Their crash risk after drinking alcohol is substantially higher than that of adults. Even without the booze, nerves and excitement, lack of sleep, and running late for a date can tip the scales against inexperienced drivers.

So how can you help the teens in your life safely navigate the big night – even if you weren’t so safe yourself? Encourage them to sit down with their parents now to make a “Prom Plan.” Some good places for parents and teens to start:

  • Leave the car at home. Prom is all about glamour, and what could be more glamorous than arriving and departing in a limousine? Teens can split the cost with other couples.
  • Limit passengers if teens must drive themselves – no more than one other couple, and be back by midnight (the time when teen accidents start to skyrocket).
  • Follow state graduated licensing laws. For the first six months, new Washington drivers can’t be on the road between 1 and 5 a.m. In Oregon, it’s midnight to 5 a.m. Passengers under age 20 (except for immediate family) are prohibited, too.
  • Give teens an escape plan. Even responsible kids can mess up. Make sure they understand that, no matter what, they can call for a ride home. Reserve questions for a time when everyone’s clear-headed.