prom, underage, drinking, driving, alcohol

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Grand Rapids (WZZM) - High School prom season is underway. Unfortunately, along with dresses, dates and dancing, it is also a time for underage drinking for many teens.

Statistics show each year between the months of April and June, prom/graduation season, one-third of all alcohol-related traffic deaths involving teens occur.

"Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers and about 1/4 of them are alcohol related," said Stephanie Hurst, a victims services specialist for MADD of Western Michigan. "People who are drinking and driving do tend to get into these nasty crashes and kids are a lot less experienced with roadways and with drinking alcohol, so they are more likely to get into those crashes."

Hurst says parents should talk to their children before these big events and parties. Those conversations should include coming up with a plan of action to prepare them to make good decisions under pressure:

  • Talking to their friends about not drinking that night.
  • Talking to their friends about being the designated driver.
  • Talking with their families about if my ride is drinking or if somebody starts celebrating and I don't feel comfortable driving home.
  • Knowing that their parents will come and get them no matter what time and that there is not going to be a punishment that night. They need to avoid an argument that night. They need to talk about it the next day and talk about there may be consequences if they were the ones that were drinking.

"But, if they are making the right decisions and making sure they are not driving home they are going to come home the next day and that is the important thing," said Hurst.

Research shows that parental involvement can reduce the risk of underage drinking by up to 30%.

Of course drunk driving crashes are among the many bad things that can happen with underage drinking. If you need help on how to talk to your kids about the topic, MADD has aPower of Parent handbooks on its website to help you get started.

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