Distracted Driving: Not on the Guest List this Prom Season

Prom Season. It’s one of the most exciting times in a teenager’s life, full of fancy dresses, suits and ties, nerves and excitement. It is also one of the scariest times to be a parent. More than one-third of the year’s alcohol-related teen traffic fatalities occur around prom and graduation time. Even responsible teens can get caught up in the moment and make bad decisions that could haunt them for a lifetime.

We’ve compiled a few tips for keeping your teens safe during prom season, and beyond.

-Leave the car at home. Prom is all about glamour, and what could be more glamorous than arriving and departing in a limo? Teens can easily split the cost with the other couples. OR for even less you can don a chauffeur’s cap, rent a fun vehicle or a luxury car and drive the happy couple to and from the prom yourself.

-Limit the passengers if teens must drive themselves. The more teenagers in the car the more likely a new driver will be distracted and do something reckless. Teen crashes skyrocket between midnight and 6am so try to keep them off the road late at night.

-Give your teen an escape plan. Even responsible kids can make mistakes. Make sure your teen understands that no matter what, they can call you if they need a ride home. If your teen inadvertently climbs into a car with a drunk driver they can use this trick to get out. At a safe place tell the driver to pull over because “I’m going to be sick”. Once outside, your child can urge the driver to give up their keys, but if not they can at least call for a safe ride home.

Prom season isn’t the only time teens can get into trouble on the road. Saying learners permit and road test out loud is enough to make a parent panic and start reciting teenage driver death statistics (8,000 a year). While we can’t put bumper lanes up around your neighborhood, we can help with these tips to make sure your teen, and your insurance policy are protected.

-Don’t forget to list your teenage drivers on your policy. Yes it will increase your premium BUT your insurance company could deny a claim for an undisclosed driver, and that could be even costlier!

Provide a safe car for your teen to drive. While most of us enjoy stories about our “clunker” first cars, you should make sure your teens are driving around in a car with at least the standard safety features (airbags, seatbelts, good tires etc..).

-Give them as much hands-on experience as possible. Drivers’ education can give your teens valuable lessons, and you get a discount on your auto policy. Also, allowing your teen to drive you when they have their permit can give them more great experience.

-Limit passengers. Studies have shown that the more friends there are in the car the more distractions and risk-taking behaviors increase. Also keep this is mind when letting your teen be driven around by their friends.

-Enforce seatbelt wearing. More than half of teenagers who died in car crashes were not wearing a seatbelt.

-Enforce no cell phone use. Even talking on the phone hands free is a major distraction that new drivers don’t need to be dealing with. Start them off with good habits and nix any kind of cell phone use while driving right from the start.

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