Driving tips for prom time: let’s bring them home safely
Posted on 03/28/2019
Osbourn Park High School Senior John O'Brien

Prom time should be a positive experience for your teen—one that he or she will never forget. There is lots excitement before the big event and so much to do. Top on your child’s list: finding a gown or tuxedo, which groups will share a limousine, and of course, who will be the big date. 

But as parents, the most important part of the preparations come from you. In addition to shopping and pictures, explain that prom night safety is a crucial part of the planning process, and that alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes are not necessary for a fun evening. Emphasize safe driving as the top priority. Discuss the facts below with your teen to help them understand how crucial making the choice for safety can be.  

Prince William Partners for Safe Teen Driving, a program sponsored by Prince William County Public Schools, is a community health initiative aimed at reducing the incidence of teenage automobile crashes, injuries, and fatalities in Virginia by assisting school divisions and communities to develop and implement local Partners for Safe Teen Driving programs. The program offers the following tips: 

  • On prom night, demand that alcohol not be allowed.
  • Make sure the vehicle your teen will be driving is in good working condition.
  • Limit the number of passengers your teen will be allowed to transport.
  • Get your teen’s promise, in writing, that he or she will not text and drive. (Find a parent-teen agreement contract here.)
  • Insist that everyone in the vehicle wear seat belts at all times.
  • Make alternative arrangements to prevent driving after midnight (chauffeur, parent car pool, taxis).
  • Renting a limo? Insist that only registered passengers be allowed transportation.
  • Make sure your teen provides contact phone numbers where he or she can be reached.

Know the facts:

  • Research shows that seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half.
  • Every day, car crashes end more teen lives than cancer, homicide, and suicide combined.
  • 11 percent of all drivers under 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.
  • 54 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths among teenagers occur on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
  • The fatal crash rate of 16-year-olds is nearly twice as high at night.
  • Research has found that dialing a phone number while driving increases your teen's risk of crashing by six times, and texting while driving increases the risk by 23 times.
  • Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55 mph, that's enough time to cover the length of a football field.

Additional information is taken from the American Automobile Association’s Keys2Drive campaign, and the National Highway Traffic Safety AdministrationCDC Teen Drivers Fact Sheet.