Tips for a Safe Prom Season
The Grafton High School Junior/Senior prom will be held on Saturday, May 11, 2013 at the DCU Center in Worcester. To help make this event a happy, safe and memorable one, I thought it would be a good idea to once again present some information on prom safety.
Motor vehicle crashes are the biggest killer of teens in North America and spring-time is considered an especially dangerous time for young drivers. Spring break, prom, and graduation are milestones - rites of passage - in the lives of teenagers. They also provide ample opportunities for teens to try alcohol or drugs for the first time. Therefore, it is no great surprise that messages warning teens not to drink and drive are more prevalent this time of year.
Parents should be reminded that distractions such as multiple passengers and speed are also big risks for teen drivers. Excitement or nerves, showing off for friends or just running late to pick up a date can cause a teen driver to speed. Whatever the excuse, the result can be fatal. According to statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, speed and driving with additional passengers contribute to more teen crashes than alcohol use.
Tell your teens that you want them to have a wonderful, memorable prom. Keep that wish as a central focus. They need to give you their complete itinerary for the evening, including whom they will be with, where they'll be going after the prom and the phone numbers where you can contact them. "We'll just be driving around" is not an acceptable response. Come to a fair decision on a curfew, based upon your children's past level of responsibility in this area. Express your concerns about their health and safety and explain to them why prom night makes it more difficult to make safe and smart decisions.
Don't be vague: Discuss drinking, drugging, driving under the influence and sex. Ask them how they plan to keep safe and avoid actions they will regret. Plan ahead what they will say or do if someone offers them alcohol or another illegal drug. Use phrases such as, "No thanks," "Are you kidding? I want to remember this night," or "Actually, I'd rather have a soda. Do you have one?" Reinforce your belief in their character and in their ability to act responsibly.
The Grafton Police Department wants everyone to enjoy a safe prom season and offers the following list of safety tips provided by the I Promise Program(www.ipromiseprogram.com):
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT - Experienced drivers are used to variables but novice drivers who spend most of their driving life in jeans and sneakers may need to practice in rigid, less comfortable dress shoes. Be alert to prom dresses that may hinder driving movements as well.
PROM NIGHT PROMISES - Make an agreement with your teen that they will not drink and drive or ride with anyone who has been drinking (or taking drugs). Make it clear that you are only a phone call away and promise to reserve judgment or punishments until you both have clear heads. Give your children the unconditional option of calling you at any time for help or advice. That includes picking them up at any time of day or night, with a promise not to shame or humiliate them in front of others. Assure them that you always welcome being part of their making smart and safe decisions. This unconditional offer of help and advice should be an outstanding offer throughout their lives.
ADDRESS SEATBELTS - Make sure teens wear their seatbelts. Teens may be reluctant to buckle up for fear of wrinkling their prom attire.
WHAT FRIENDS AREN'T FOR - Remove distractions by limiting passengers in teen-driven vehicles to the number of seatbelts in the car.
NO DRIVING DROWSY - Encourage your teen to secure an alternate ride home or to stay put if they feel tired. Tell your teen to pull off in a safe area to rest if they feel overcome by sleepiness once on the road.
PROVIDE THE RIDE - Rent a limousine for your teen and their friends and make an agreement with the limo driver - any alcohol and the kids are brought straight home. Another option is to find a responsible party to act as a chauffer. This may be a parent or an older sibling.
Anyone with questions for the Chief’s Column may submit them by mail to the Grafton Police Department, 28 Providence Road, Grafton, MA 01519. You may also email your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include an appropriate subject line, as I do not open suspicious email for obvious reasons.
Normand A. Crepeau, Jr.
Chief of Police