With prom season fast approaching, high school students in Rhode Island and across Southern New England are already planning who their date will be, what type of dress or style of tuxedo they will wear, where to eat and what parties to attend. They are also thinking about the memories they want to make at prom.
The last thing on the mind of most prom-goers is the possibility of being seriously injured in a drunk driving accident or distracted driving accident. Unless you take action to keep drunk driving and distracted driving out of your plans, your prom night might not be the memorable celebration you hoped for. A happy occasion can turn into a tragedy that could have been avoided.
Hazards of Drunk and Distracted Driving Among High School Students
Vehicle-related accidents are the leading cause of death among teens in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Each day, an average of seven teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 die from injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents. Drivers in this age group are almost three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than drivers over the age of 20.
A major factor in the increased risk to teen drivers is a lack of experience behind the wheel. Teenagers have had only limited time to master driving skills. Hazards teen drivers are likely to face include:
- Distractions from other teenagers in the vehicle.
- Underestimating or mishandling potentially dangerous situations.
- Being encouraged to speed.
- Following too closely behind another vehicle.
- Aggressive or risky driving.
- Alcohol consumption and drug impairment.
- Inexperience with nighttime driving.
Driving to and from Prom? How to Keep You and Your Friends Safe
If you opt to drive on prom night, the following are a few tips to help keep you safe:
- Follow the rules of the road, including speed limits.
- Do not drink and drive.
- Sign a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement confirming your commitment to not drink and drive and make the decision to stay focused on driving.
- Buckle up while driving and insist your passengers do the same.
- Limit the number of passengers you drive to and from prom. The fewer people you have in the vehicle, the less likely you are to become distracted while driving.
- Do not give in to the urge to talk on your cell phone or text while driving. Whatever the message is, it can wait. As an extra safety measure, you can also block texts and phone calls while you are driving.
- Figure out where you are going, so you can enter your route into a GPS device in advance. If you don’t have GPS, drive the route during the day so you become familiar with where you need to go and how to get there.
- Keep in mind, the later you stay out, the more exhausted you will be. When a driver is fatigued or drowsy it can have a dramatic impact on reaction time, the ability to stay awake and the ability to act quickly in a hazardous situation.
- Make sure to bring a fully charged cell phone. You should also keep a cell phone charger in your vehicle. This way you can call home or call for assistance in case of an emergency.
Keep in mind, if you are impaired due to alcohol, drugs or any other reason, do not make the mistake of thinking it is safe to drive. Call your parents or another trusted adult, regardless of what time it is, and ask them to pick you up. Your parents and your date’s parents would much rather be awakened in the middle of the night to come get you than to find out you were injured or killed in an avoidable accident.
Unfortunately, even if you do what you should to stay safe, another driver’s carelessness could still cause a crash that seriously injures you and your passengers. If you are hurt in an accident on prom night or any day of the year, you may be entitled to significant compensation from an at-fault driver or other responsible party.
The Rhode Island personal injury attorneys at Marasco & Nesselbush provide free case reviews to car accident victims and their families. Call us at 855-801-6262 or fill out a contact form to set up a free legal consultation. We have four offices located in Providence, Wakefield, Warwick, and Woonsocket to easily serve you.