We know that teens are the victims of tragic driving accidents on prom night, but new information shows this could actually be happening less. A 2011 survey conducted by Liberty Mutual and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) showed that only about 6% of teens actually have driven under the influence on prom night. This is in sharp contrast to 79% of teen’s that believe that their peers are more likely to drink and drive on prom night. This means that most teens do what they feel is right and not what they think “everyone else” is doing. While these numbers are somewhat promising any amount of underage drinking is not acceptable and it is our duty to make it clear to our teens that we do not tolerate underage drinking.
Liberty mutual suggests that teens are less likely to engage in underage drinking during events like prom, because schools have put in place some no tolerance policies that have greatly influenced these behaviors and decisions. Policies and procedures that have been working to reduce teen drinking include: visible law enforcement, organized transportation, breathalyzer tests for admission, and other after prom programs that keep teens occupied late into the night. While this news may make parents breathe a little easier, the survey also points to some other dangers. Teens revealed they are more likely to drink and drive when not involved with school functions. Up to 12% of teens in the survey admitted to driving under the influence during the summer, on the 4th of July and on New Year’s Eve.
These statistics put much responsibility on parents to make sure teens are developing safe driving habits not only during special events, but every day of the year. If you haven’t already, it’s not too late to begin the conversations and set boundaries and guidelines for safe, responsible driving. The North Dakota Department of Transportation and Liberty Mutual both have customizable parent- teen agreements that list specific requirements and consequences for breaking the rules or driving laws.
So sit down with your teen tonight and set guidelines for prom and for all the other nights your teen is on the road that include your no tolerance policy.