Parents can make prom memorable in all the right ways

Posted: Sunday, March 31, 2002

Prom night should be a time to remember for always. Remem-bered because of the special dress, the activities and time with friends. Unfortunately, tragedy can sometimes cast a terrible shadow on how a person remembers prom night for the rest of their lives.

What follows are excerpts from an article entitled, "Prepare for Prom now, for your daughters to be safe", written by Gary Direnfeld, executive director of the I Promise Program. The I Promise Program is a safe driving program where parents and a teen enter into a mutual safe driving contract.

Parents who want to prepare best for prom night and the other 365 nights of the year can go to and print out a registration form and the article by Direnfeld in its entirety. We will also provide copies in our office.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that at age 16, which is the highest risk age for drivers, 48 percent of deaths were passengers and slightly more 16-year-old females were killed as passengers than as drivers.

More females will be a passenger of a male teen driver than any other time of the year across North America.

Speeding, alcohol use, multiple passengers and driving between midnight and 3 a.m. represent the deadliest combination of factors and is the prime recipe for car crashes. In year 2000, 34 percent of male drivers involved in fatal crashes were speeding. In 2000, 23 percent of speeding drivers involved in fatal crashes were also intoxicated. Between midnight and 3 a.m., 77 percent of speeding drivers involved in fatal accidents were intoxicated. Get the picture yet?

Parents who want to reduce the risk of their child's involvement in a car crash should do the following:

Check your brakes and brake fluid. While teens are interested in how fast the car can go, parents should be interested in how well the car can stop.

Limit the number of passengers your teen is allowed to transport. The risk of a car crash goes up exponentially for each passenger added.

Be a good role model and do not drink and drive what-so-ever. Teens are very sensitive to hypocrisy and determine their behavior by what they observe in their parent, not by what the parent says. Tell your teen not to drink and

drive and lead by example.

Do not allow your teen to drive after midnight. If transportation is required after midnight, make alternate arrangements. Act as a chauffeur, car pool with another parent or arrange for a taxi. It is better that the parent loses one night's sleep than the life of their child.

Remember, the prom is but one night a year. To be really safe parents must concern themselves with teen driver safety 365 days a year. To ensure safe driving year round, parents are recommended to participate in safe driving programs such as the I Promise Program.

Direnfeld is a social worker, public speaker and author who has worked with teens and families for over 25 years. He developed the I Promise Program to keep his own son safe when he reached driving age.

For a copy of Direnfeld's article and contract, contact the Cooperative Extension Service office at 43961 K-Beach Road, Suite A, Soldotna, AK 99669. Or call (907) 262-5824.

Linda Athons is a Cooperative Extension Service agent and home economist.

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