May and June are peak season for attending Proms and graduation parties, but don't let a fun celebration turn into a tragic teen statistic.
Teen drivers are four times more likely than older drivers to crash. Even worse, according to teendriversource.org, the fatal crash rate of 16-year olds is nearly twice as high at night, while 58 percent of teen nighttime crashes happen between 9pm and midnight. Since it’s definitely an event that combines teens with night driving, driving safely to and from Prom is as important as selecting the right clothes for the event. AskPatty is offering the following Prom Driving Safety Tips for parents and their young drivers to discuss to ensure this special event is nothing but a smooth ride.
Groom Before You Zoom:
Ignore that makeup mirror while you’re on the road!
Before it’s time to go, take one last look in the mirror and make sure you’re looking good, so nothing takes your focus off the road while driving. Distracted driving contributes to a million crashes in North America each year -- up to 8,000 crashes every single day! Prom or not, shaving, styling your hair, or applying makeup while driving is never a good idea.
Don’t Drive Tired:
Make sure you get plenty of sleep ahead of the event.
Since many parties last until early morning, you might just choose to rent a limousine, ask your parents to pick you up, or hire an Uber so you and your friends don't have to drive tired.
In a poll of drivers surveyed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37% of drivers admitted to falling asleep at the wheel at some point in their driving career, and 8% admitted doing so in the past six months; NHTSA conservatively estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of drowsy driving each year. This results in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses. Those numbers encompass all drivers, but keep in mind that fatal car crashes involving teens happen significantly more frequently at night.
Follow the speed limits and limit on the number of friends you ride with.
More than half of teenage drivers involved in motor vehicle accidents were speeding at the time of the incident. Teens are more likely than older drivers to allow shorter headways (the distance from the front of one vehicle to the front of the next), according to CDC.gov. It’s especially dangerous to new drivers who just don’t have the experience to process on-the-road emergencies.
Crash risks increase when teens drive with other teens in the car: Half of fatal crashes involving 16-year-old drivers with three or more passengers are speeding-related. According to NHTSA, teens are 2.5 times more likely to engage in risky behaviors when driving with one teenage passenger and three times more likely with multiple teenaged passengers, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says the risk of fatal crashes increases with each additional passenger.
Don’t Drink/Do Drugs and Drive!
Drinking is responsible for over 4,500 deaths each year among young drivers.
Drinking before the age of 21 is illegal in every state, and alcohol and driving should never mix no matter your age. This goes for using drugs and other illegal substances as well. Be smart: Don't get into the car with a driver who's been drinking, and pay careful attention to other drivers out late at night. Each year in the U.S., more than 10,000 people are killed and 350,000 are injured due to drunk driving.
Keep an eye on your date/driver to make sure they do not drink any alcohol or take any drugs. And, even if you don’t intend to catch a buzz, be safe about what you do drink: Don’t accept drinks from someone you do not know, and if you leave your drink unattended, discard it and get a new one.
Wear Your Seatbelt!
Insist that everyone wears a seat belt even if it means a few clothing wrinkles.
Compared with other age groups, teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use, according to CDC.gov. In addition to jewelry or flowers, seatbelts are the perfect formal accessory – a little wrinkle in your dress, tux, or graduation gown is hardly worth not buckling up for. Buckling your seatbelt can save your life and keep you from getting seriously injured.
Make a Plan:
Make sure you have a safe plan for Prom night
Know where you are and where you’re planning to go, and be sure to discuss your plans with your friends and parents ahead of time so you all get to your destination safely. Know your route so you don’t get lost on dark and unfamiliar roads, and be sure to contact your parents if your plans change. And remember to charge your cell phone and have it with you -- and even your spare battery, just in case you need it.
Keep Your Hands on the Wheel:
Don’t be distracted by fiddling with your phone while driving.
Surfing through the radio or your MP3 player to find a good song is just another distraction that takes your attention away from the road, so choose your music playlist ahead of time, and ensure everything is properly connected before starting the engine. Let your passenger control the music so you can keep your hands on the wheel. You’re going to see all your friends at Prom, so there’s no need to be texting or on the phone while driving!
Make a Phonecall:
Be prepared to ask for a “no questions asked” ride home.
No list of tips for teen drivers would be complete without an understanding that parents would rather have a phone call at 2 a.m. than for their teenager to make the decision to drive impaired. Make an agreement with friends to check on one another during the evening, and be sure someone you trust is available for you to call if your plans change or you need a "no questions asked" ride home.
According to an interview with D’Arcy Lyness, a child and adolescent psychologist and behavioral health editor, teens must know that they can and should call parents if they’re in an unsafe situation, and the parents should be ready to answer the call. “Sometimes parents and teens set up a little code call, in which a teen doesn't have to say ‘come get me, my ride is drinking,’ ” Lyness says. Teens can call parents and say a simple, agreed-upon phrase that will cue parents to pick them up.
Have a Dress Rehearsal:
Be sure you can drive in what you’re wearing!
Whether it’s a formal tux with fancy leather shoes, or a slinky dress with strappy sandals, Prom attendees are often dressed in unfamiliar clothing and are usually not wearing comfortable shoes. Be sure you can drive in what you’re wearing and that it won’t inhibit your reaction time while driving. Be sure to scuff your shoe soles: More than one new shoe has slipped off a brake pedal.
Prom is a great time to have fun with your friends, but don’t forget that you have a responsibility to yourself, your passengers, and other drivers on the road to act responsibly and drive safely.