It is a statistic that does not surprise Oklahoma City car accident lawyers: more than one third of all alcohol-related fatal accidents involving teenagers occur in April, May, and June. With auto accidents being the leading cause of death among teenagers, accounting for one out of every three teen deaths, it is clear that spring is a particularly dangerous time for teen drivers. Why the spike in springtime accidents? In large part, the increased number of alcohol-related accidents involving teens is attributed to prom and graduation. Widely considered important rites of passage, prom and graduation parties have also, unfortunately, become associated with excessive underage drinking. Certainly not every alcohol related crash occurs during prom or graduation parties, but the connection these events have to binge drinking makes prom and graduation season an important time to increase awareness of the hazards of drinking and driving. Many schools and organizations attempt to reduce the number of springtime alcohol fatalities by ramping up educational efforts and providing alcohol-free alternatives to after-prom celebrations. Drive by many Oklahoma high schools, and you will see a crashed car parked on the school lawn to warn students of the dangers of intoxicated driving. Other schools stage mock DUI accidents, in which students pose as accident victims and police, fire crews, ambulance, life flight helicopters, and even the medical examiner report to the scene. Most Oklahoma high schools now host after-prom parties, often a lock-in at a local amusement park or other venue designed to keep kids safe, sober, and off the roads. Organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) sponsor assemblies and programs designed to graphically warn teen drivers against the hazards of drinking and driving. Many parents remain blissfully unaware of what their children are doing. In fact, the Century Council, a national non-profit organization dedicated to fighting intoxicated driving and funded by the nation's leading distillers, reports that more than half of those surveyed between the ages of 13 and 20 report that they regularly consume alcohol. Even if your child does not drink, or does not drink and drive, he or she is not immune to the dangers of drunk driving. Oklahoma City auto accident attorneys frequently represent crash victims that were struck by an intoxicated driver. Some tips for helping your teen have a safe prom night include:
- Find out who will be driving.
- If a teen is driving himself or herself, limit the number of passengers allowed and require that all passengers wear a seat belt. Get the names and contact information for the parents of each passenger.
- Get a complete itinerary of your teen's evening, including the addresses and contact information for any after parties. Know where your teen plans to be and when they plan to be there.
- Make sure your teen knows where to contact you the entire evening, and consider arranging specific check-in times.
- Discuss risky situations beforehand so your teen has a plan for handling them. Talk about pressure to have sex, being offered drugs or alcohol, and being offered a ride by an intoxicated driver.
- Find out who will be hosting, chaperoning, and supervising any after-prom parties.
- Program the number of reputable taxi companies into your teen's phone and provide enough money to cover the fare, if necessary.
- Wait up for your teen, and make sure he or she knows you will be waiting for his or her safe return.