The season is fast approaching. For many high school students, prom is the highlight of the school year — the gorgeous gowns and sleek tuxedos, elegant dinner, the ritual of the corsage and boutonniere, and, of course, the dance itself. As a parent, you may send off your son or daughter and marvel at just how grown-up they’ve become.
But it’s important to remember that behind the makeup and fancy clothes, your child is still … well, a child. Teenagers may look like they’re on the verge of adulthood, but their decision-making skills haven’t fully matured and they lack critical experience behind the wheel.
It’s your responsibility to talk to your kid about staying safe on the road and to make it easy for them to get out of a potentially hazardous situation without fear of punishment or judgment. That’s the best way to ensure that your son or daughter has a memorable — and safe — prom experience.
If Your Child Will Be Driving, Set Clear Rules
Maybe you’ve driven with your kid and believe them to be a safe driver. But don’t assume your speed-limit-obeying, perfectly attentive child will act the same way when driving with a date or a group of friends. Stats don’t lie, and stats concerning teen drivers are sobering.
- 16-year-olds are 20 times more likely to be killed in an auto accident than an adult, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety.
- One in five teens has an accident in their first year behind the wheel.
- Two-thirds of teen passengers killed in wrecks are in vehicles driven by other young people.
- Death rates of 16- and 17-year-old drivers go up with each additional passenger.
- More than 40% of teen auto fatalities happen between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
- Fewer than half (44%) of teenagers say they would speak up if someone was driving in a way that scared them.
If you’ve decided to allow your teenager to drive on prom night, go over fundamentals of road safety with them.
- No drinking alcohol — but if they do, they are to call you for a ride, which you will provide, no questions asked.
- Under no circumstance should they text or use their phone while behind the wheel.
- If their passengers become rowdy or loud, they should not be afraid to tell them to pipe down.
- Everyone in the car must wear a seatbelt.
Other Tips for a Safe Prom Night
- Ideally, your child and friends will not drive at all. Either volunteer to chauffeur the kids yourself or consider hiring a limo from a reputable company.
- Make it clear that they can call you for a ride home, at any time and under any circumstance. And they will not be punished for doing so, even if they’ve broken a rule.
- Communicate with other parents and make sure you’re all on the same page about what the kids will be doing.
- Whether or not your child is driving, you should discuss plans ahead of time, have a curfew in place, and know where they will be at all times.
- Make sure your child’s cell phone is fully charged before leaving the house.
- Consider organizing a fun, alcohol-free, post-prom party with other parents.
We hope prom night is magical, fun, and mishap-free. But if your child has been hurt in an accident, the Austin personal injury lawyers at the Evans & Herlihy Law Firm can help. Fill out our online form or call 1-855-414-1012.