AAA East Central urges teens & parents to plan for a safe prom season

It's that time of the year, again! The time for tuxedos, dresses, boutonnieres, and awkward slow-dancing, as high schools around the area gear up for prom night! Prom can be a very special time for teens, but not one without the temptation of underage drinking. AAA East Central is urging parents and teens to remember that alcohol can turn that "night to remember" into a dangerous night that prom attendees will wish had never happened.

"This is the time of the year we hear tragic stories of teens getting into accidents as the result of drinking and driving," said Terri Rae Anthony, AAA East Central Safety Advisor. "Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show a frightening amount of teen crashes involve alcohol."

In fact, NHTSA reports that in 2015, almost 1,900 young drivers died in motor vehicle crashes in America. 26 percent of those young drivers had blood alcohol concentrations of .01 g/dL or higher; 80 percent of those drivers had blood alcohol concentrations of .08 g/dL or higher, which is the legal limit for driving under the influence or driving while impaired.

To avoid these devastating and life-changing accidents, AAA East Central offers the following tips for teenagers:

Be prepared to appropriately handle peer pressure to drink alcohol by saying "No."

Remember that safe, responsible drivers do not combine drinking and driving- ever.

Make a plan before you go out for the evening: stick to that plan, and keep your parents up-to-speed on where you are.

In an effort to help keep teenagers safe, AAA East Central offers the following tips for parents:

Be open to having honest conversations with your teen about drinking. Also make sure to encourage questions from your teen, and pay attention to their answers for any early warning signs of underage drinking.

Approach the conversation with an understanding attitude and encourage questions. Avoiding preaching to your teen can help make sure your message isn't tuned out.

Be clear in setting family ground-rules against drinking, and driving under the influence of alcohol. Also, establish consequences to crossing those boundaries.

Make sure you know where your teen is going and what their plan is after prom. And even though it may seem more desirable to have your child drink in your own home, don't facilitate teen drinking. This practice is both risky and illegal.

Offer to drive your teenager and their friends, or offer to facilitate a ride.

The dangers of prom night extend beyond underage drinking and driving under the influence. Teens are advised to stay off of the road if they are drowsy after a long night of dancing; sleepiness slows your reaction time, decreases awareness, and impairs your judgment, just like drugs or alcohol. Parents and teens should also avoid any form of distracted driving, which can be equally as deadly- even in a matter of seconds. Teenagers should limit the number of people traveling in their car, and put their phones down until they reach their destination. Parents can help teens avoid distracted driving by setting a good example and avoiding the practice themselves.