With the end of senior year right around the corner, it’s only natural for teens – and parents – to be excited about the special moments to come. However, all the fun that comes with year-end parties, prom, and graduation can be fraught with peril, especially if alcohol or reckless driving enter the picture. All it takes is one accident to ruin the day or the season, whether that means a crashed car or an underage drinker.

In order to stay safe this season, it’s important to plan ahead with your child, setting ground rules to make sure your family puts safety first.

Underage Drinking

Despite the laws regarding alcohol consumption, there’s no guarantee teens will wait until 21 to have a drink. Instead, make sure your teen knows that his/her safety comes first. Be available to provide a ride should a party get out of hand, and make sure your teen knows that you will always be there to get him out of a bad situation. Alternatively, consider arranging transportation for your teen, like a limo on prom night or rideshare services to and from social gatherings.

Alcohol can put your teen in danger, no matter how much he has had to drink. Drinking and driving is an extremely serious problem. Getting behind the wheel after just one drink puts everyone on the road at risk. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens and nearly a quarter of deaths behind the wheel are caused by underage drinking. Furthermore, teen alcohol use kills 4,300 people each year.

In addition to risking the health and well-being of everyone on the road, a drunken-driving or impaired-driving incident can significantly impact your family – physically, financially and emotionally. No matter your teen’s plans for prom season, be sure he/she knows that drinking and driving should never be on the schedule.

When it comes to alcohol, make sure you also protect yourself. Hosting a graduation party for your child is a standard way to celebrate the excitement of leaving high school behind. But before you start putting stamps on the invitations, be sure you know the risks. Allowing teens to drink on your property can put you at risk legally and financially.

Safe Driving Habits

Before your teen takes off for the prom, graduation day, or post-graduation parties, discuss the importance of safe driving. Texting and driving, for example, seems harmless enough, especially with the sophisticated voice-to-text technology available on most smartphones. But no message is important enough to die for. Remind your teen that nine Americans die every day from texting and driving. No matter where your teen is going, texting is a no-no.

Even teens with safe driving habits can make mistakes. To minimize chances for accidents, set a curfew. Some towns and cities have curfews for minors under the age of 18 but others do not so discuss a reasonable time to return home. Many parents choose 11 PM or midnight for standard events but may stretch the limits a little for special occasions like prom night.

In addition to a reasonable curfew, parents should also emphasize other policies for safety, like keeping passengers to a minimum and avoiding those who have been drinking. Emphasize to your teen to never get in the car with a drunk driver. But this rule should extend to drunk passengers, too. A crow of intoxicated teenagers can be extremely distracting, making it harder for the driver, even while sober, to keep his eyes on the road.

All Zion Recovery Locations and The Southwest Iowa Mental Health Center will be CLOSED Wednesday December 25 for Christmas Day & Wednesday January 1 for New Year's Day *All Outpatient Offices will be CLOSING at NOON on Tuesday December 24th*
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