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Prom Night Safety
Categories: Brain Injury


My 16-year-old daughter will be going to her first prom soon. I want her to have a good time, but I’m worried about her safety on a night when so much drinking and driving is going on. Any advice?


With the advent of spring, teenagers around the country are looking forward to prom night and graduation activities. It’s a very exciting time in a young person’s life, and naturally parents want their children to have fun, but they also want them to be safe.
“All the more reason to reinforce the message that drinking and driving can be disastrous,” says Jennifer Silber-Carr, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Clinical Director for the May Center School for Brain Injury and Neurobehavioral Disorders.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. In 2013, 2,163 teens ages 16-19 were killed in motor vehicle crashes. Drivers in this age group who have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher are 17 times more likely to die in a crash than when they have not been drinking.
Many of these deaths are the result of traumatic brain injuries; many occur following prom and graduation parties. For those young people who survive a life-threatening brain injury, long-lasting effects may impact their ability to function well at school, home, and in other settings. According to the Brain Injury Association of America, more than 5.3 million Americans live with a lifelong disability as a result of traumatic brain injury.
Most teens will assure their parents that they know all about the dangers of drinking and driving. However, some who would not drink and drive could find themselves in a situation where they might be tempted to ride with someone who does.
“Don’t assume that your daughter knows all the potential consequences of drinking and driving,” says Dr. Silber-Carr. “Talk to her and discuss some of the alarming statistics.  You should also get to know her date, ask about their transportation plans, and where they plan to go before and after the prom. Don’t be shy. This is too important not to talk about.
“I recommend that parents get involved with school-sponsored activities such as safety nights and staged crash scenes designed to discourage drinking and driving. You might also help plan after-prom activities that do not include alcohol. And I think it’s a good idea for parents to make it easy for their teenagers to get a “no-questions-asked” free and safe ride home at any hour of the night – not just on prom night, but anytime they might feel uneasy.”
For more ideas, contact Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD)
Dr. Jennifer Silber-Carr is Clinical Director for the May Center School for Brain Injury and Neurobehavioral Disorders in Brockton. For more information about this school, contact Andrea Potoczny-Gray, Executive Director, at 508.588.8800 (x2124).