Prom season is upon us! The 17-year-old son of one our staffers will be attending his first prom this weekend, and because he is a new driver, his mom is a little worried about his driving safety on prom night. Prom is a big night for teenagers, filled with glitter, glitz, and high expectations. For parents, though, it can be a long evening fraught with nail-biting and worry that won't end until their teen returns home safely.
And parents of young drivers have a reason to be worried!
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15- to 20-year-olds; in 2008, approximately 5,800 15- to 20-year-old drivers were involved in fatal crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The numbers also show that the severity of a crash increases when alcohol is involved: In 2008, 22 percent of 15- to 20-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking.
Texting while driving is another area of concern. Ford research shows that teens do not have the experience that allows them to self-limit tasks while driving. NHTSA estimates that distracted driving, including the use of nomadic electronic devices, may be involved in some capacity in up to 80 percent of road collisions.
Prom night is a special night for teens, but with a little forethought and a few frank discussions, parents won't be so anxious as their kids spend an evening out on the town. Fortunately, parents can coach their teens on safe driving, make sure they know that drinking and driving is illegal, and find other ways to help them become more confident behind the wheel. The comprehensive Ford Driving Skills for Life website, www.drivingskillsforlife.com, is chock-full of car care and driving safety tips for both teens and parents. The informative web site offers a variety of tips on improving driving skills in four key areas that are estimated to lead to 60 percent of teen accidents. The driving tips info there should help settle the minds of even the most concerned parents!
For so many teens, prom night isn't a time to dwell on safety. It means fancy dresses, smart tuxes, and an exciting night out. But anytime is a good time to share the following young driver guidelines from Ford:
Remind your teenager again and again how important that single little click can be. Statistics show that seat belt usage is lowest among teenagers, even though seat belts continue to be proven as the NUMBER ONE life-saving device in accidents.
Don't drink and drive.
You may assume your teen knows this, but it's worth a sit-down talk. Make sure your teen knows the dangers of driving under the influence - or getting into a vehicle with someone who's been drinking.
No text zone.
Remind your teen driver to avoid distractions such as texting, loud music and any activities that take their eyes away from the road for extended periods of time. Research shows this combination significantly increases the risk of accidents.
Take a drive.
Is your son or daughter taking the car that night? Drive the route with him or her; make sure they know exactly where they're going and limit the number of passengers who will be in the car at all times.
Renting a limo?
Check the safety record of the limo company. Make sure the company you (or the kids) are renting from has a reputable history. Ensure the driver knows where he is taking the passengers ahead of time so no last-minute destination changes can be made.
Set a check-in time and curfew.
Have the couple call you when the dance is over, or when they're changing venues, so you know where they are at all times. Set a curfew. Make sure your teens know when you expect them home, and make sure they know it's not debatable.
Of course parents want to ensure their teens have the skills - and technology - to more safely take the wheel whenever they are out on the road. Find more safe driving tips for teens at The comprehensive Ford Driving Skills for Life website, www.drivingskillsforlife.com
Creative commons photo credits:
Seatbelt photo by Alvimann at Morguefile.com, teen prom photo by LaBellaVida at Flickr.com, teen prom photo 2 by LaBellaVida at Flickr.com, teens with limo via National Limousine Association
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