Prom can be a huge event for teens and a big worry for parents. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that one third of all alcohol-related teen driving fatalities occur between April-June – peak prom season.
How can parents help their teens keep safety top of mind this prom season? Dr. Gene Beresin, Senior Advisor on adolescent psychiatry with Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and Executive Director of The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Mass General Hospital, offers tips for parents.
- Have a conversation (or more than one): Since the teen brain is driven more by impulse than reason, it’s important to have a candid discussion about the dangers of prom, such as driving under the influence or distracted driving. Have the discussion in advance of prom night and reinforce the message to help keep it top-of-mind for your teen.
- Create a secret code: In case teens find themselves in a vulnerable situation pre- or post-prom, parents and teens can create a secret code together, such as a text code, to alert their parents that they need to be picked up with a “no questions asked” policy.
- Set clear rules: Whether your teen is driving to prom or just a passenger, parents should make it clear that there’s NO driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. As a conversation starter, reference Liberty Mutual’s Teen Driving Contract, a customized agreement for parents and teens to get on the same page.
- Passengers on prom night: Driving with two or more passengers greatly increases your risk of getting into an accident due to distracted driving. Speak with teens about how many friends they can drive with on prom night and remind them to always stay focused on the road.