The clock is ticking to prom night. Before you know it, friends will arrive at the house, dates will exchange corsages and boutonnieres, and then everyone will hit the road for the highly talked about dance. This means more teen drivers on the road. After all, most prom-goers finally have their long-awaited driver’s license, and they may think prom seems like the perfect opportunity to flex those new driving skills. Whatever your plans, wherever your destination, we at NHTSA want you to have a fun – and safe – prom night. Keep these tips in mind:
- Pay Attention: Distracted driving, especially texting or using social media while driving, is common among younger drivers. Passengers can also be a distraction in the car. Of the 3,522 people killed in distraction-related crashes in 2021, 225 were teens 15 to 19 years old. #JustDrive, save the selfies for prom.
- Slow Down: Faster speeds rob drivers of the extra reaction time they may need to avoid a crash, and inexperience behind the wheel makes speeding especially dangerous for young drivers.
- Stay Alert: Prom usually ends around midnight, and after-parties can end much later. Make sure you get home before the exhaustion hits, or work out a plan with friends to stay the night in a safe place so you won’t be driving drowsy.
- Buckle Up: Remember to buckle up, every trip, every time, and ask your passengers to do the same.
- Drive Sober: It is illegal for people under the age of 21 to consume alcohol, and it is illegal to drink and drive. Under no circumstances should high-school prom-goers drink alcohol. But if you have consumed alcohol, hand your keys to a sober driver so you can get home safely.
- Hire a Ride: Talk to other parents about springing for a chauffeur. Your inexperienced teen drivers are already distracted by the excitement of the evening, and knowing they’re in the hands of a capable driver will bring you peace of mind and help keep the roads safe.
- Set the Rules: If your teen is planning to drive to prom, talk to him or her about safe driving habits, and what behavior is expected when he or she is behind the wheel. Remind your teen that many States’ graduated driver licensing laws restrict the number of passengers they are legally allowed to have in their car. Have your teen sign a safety agreement, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Parent-Teen Driving Contract (PDF, 465K).
- Open Your Home: Prom night is a late night. Encourage your teen to ask friends to spend the night to keep them off the roads. Provide plenty of snacks and non-alcoholic beverages to facilitate a sober night of fun.
- Be the Example: Your kids are paying attention, so model good habits every time you drive. Practice what you preach and put down your cell phone, buckle your seat belt, and always obey traffic laws.
Stay safe this prom season!