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Prom, cars and alcohol: A dangerous mix

High school students look forward to prom night for months. It's a celebration, a rite of passage and a tradition going back decades.

Unfortunately, it also carries a high level of risk. Kids often borrow their parents' cars or even rent cars to go to prom. They may have chaperones at the dance, but they do not have them in the car, at dinner or at an after party. A lot of teens engage in underage drinking, and experts warn that binge drinking is also common.

It's not a good mix. Young, inexperienced drivers are already a high-risk group. So are drunk drivers. Combining the two can and does lead to traffic accidents.

Here are a few facts that help paint the picture:

  • Around 300 teenagers have lost their lives in prom-weekend car accidents in recent years, per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
  • When teens between the ages of 16 and 19 were asked if they would use alcohol or drugs around prom or if they knew people who would, a full 41 percent answered in the affirmative.
  • Looking at total drunk driving fatality statistics, about 33 percent of deadly accidents happen from April 1 to June 30. This time frame includes both prom night and graduation.
  • Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) states that about one out of every four crashes involving teenagers can be linked to underage drinking. MADD also notes that an average of 1,415 people who have not yet reached the legal drinking age pass away in DUI crashes annually.

Prom season is here, so it is important to know the risks you face and what legal options you have if you're hit by a drunk driver.

Source: Promises, "Prom Night & Teen Drinking: The Facts," accessed April 26, 2018

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