Collaboration is Key to Reducing Car Accidents on Prom Night

Pikeville injury attorney Billy Johnson believes that open, honest conversations between teens and parents are the best way to keep teens safe on prom night.

Pikeville, Kentucky, April 03, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In a few weeks’ time, teens will be donning formal wear and heading off to that near-mythical event known as "prom." Though prom comes with excitement and anticipation for some high schoolers, it is fraught with worry for many parents.


Pikeville attorney Billy Johnson has been representing people injured in car accidents throughout his entire career, and he believes the two biggest threats to young people on prom night are distracted driving and alcohol use.


“Alcohol use on prom night isn’t a new danger,” Johnson said. “That’s been a cause for concern since prom began. And while smartphones are a newer threat to road safety, distraction itself is something drivers have always faced.”


Johnson said that the fact that these dangers are well-known doesn’t make them any less real. In fact, he believes that our constant exposure to warnings instructing drivers not to drink and drive or use phones behind the wheel make us somewhat immune to their importance.


“No one thinks it is a good idea to get behind the wheel after drinking or to text a friend while driving,” Johnson said. “Instead of restating the obvious, parents and teens should focus on practical ways to make our roads safe for teens on prom night.”


Johnson said that planning transportation for prom attendees should be a collaboration between parents and teens. Making rides readily available and judgment-free is the best way to keep young people from making poor choices.


“In an ideal world, no young person would consume alcohol on prom night,” Johnson said. “But if we accept the idea that there will be alcohol, we can address the world we live in and not the one we wished for. Even if your teen doesn’t drink on prom night, there’s a chance that the person driving the vehicle they’re in might be drinking.”


Johnson said that offering teens a no-questions-asked ride to and from prom and prom after-parties is the best way parents can make themselves available for their children. He suggests that parents be willing to pick up their child without asking why they need a ride.


When it comes to distraction, Johnson points out studies showing that extra passengers in a vehicle are as big a threat as mobile devices. AAA found that when a teen has only teen passengers in their vehicle, the risk of everyone being involved in an ensuing crash goes up by 51 percent.


“Knowing this threat is the first step for teen drivers,” Johnson said. “Next, we need to offer our teens solutions. Providing them with transportation is the best way to make sure they can focus on enjoying prom and not be in danger of a serious injury in a car accident.”


Johnson encourages parents to either offer their own services as drivers or coordinate with other parents of their teen’s party to make sure that an experienced, trusted driver takes the wheel for the night.


“If teens aren’t willing to hand over the wheel for the night, we can at least have an open discussion about the dangers they face,” Johnson said. “Billboards advertising slogans about distraction and impairment unfortunately aren’t enough. A healthy dialogue with parents is a much more effective way to convey the importance of road safety on prom night. Trust your teens and talk to them like adults, but don’t avoid the conversation.”


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