Staying safe on Prom Night

Q: 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?

A: 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 Gary Pace, Ph.D., clinical director of May Institute’s school for children and adolescents with brain injury. “According to the National Highway Safety Administration, alcohol-related crashes kill more young people ages 16 to 20 than any other age group. And many young people who survive serious automobile accidents are left with life-threatening or life-altering brain injuries.”

Most young people 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.

“Statistics reveal that eight young people die every day in alcohol-related crashes,” said Pace. “Many of these deaths occur in the spring and summer months following prom night and graduation parties. And many of these fatalities are caused by traumatic brain injuries that, in most cases, are preventable.”

Traumatic brain injury affects approximately 1 million children every year, with 165,000 requiring hospitalization. According to the Brain Injury Association of America, more people experience traumatic brain injury each year than breast cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries combined. Currently, more than 5 million Americans are living with disabilities caused by brain injury.

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.


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