17:00 PM

Prom, Graduation Season Presents Dangers for Teen Drivers

AAA Offers Free Program for Schools

AAA is working with schools in effort to prevent Prom and Graduation season from turning deadly on North Dakota roads.

The Auto Club Group is launching its annual AAA PROMise program which is an effort to prevent teen substance-impaired driving, as well as distracted driving.

"Prom and graduation season is a time for celebration for many teens and, in some cases, alcohol or drugs may be included in plans," said Gene LaDoucer, regional director of public affairs for AAA-The Auto Club Group. "This becomes particularly dangerous if driving is involved. The combination of impaired and inexperienced drivers can lead to a tragic end."

AAA PROMise provides a multi-tiered approach to enhancing the safety of teen drivers and everyone else on the roads.

How it works:

The teen signs a pledge banner and makes the following promise before celebrating Prom and Graduation:

  • I promise not to drive impaired or distracted.
  • I promise not to let my friends drive impaired or distracted.
  • I promise my parents I will get home safely or call them for help.

By making the AAA PROMise, the teen agrees to openly communicate with his or her parent/guardian regarding a plan for getting home safely on special nights such as Prom and Graduation.

Parents also have an important role to play by making their children feel safe about calling them for help. Parents can PROMise that they will always pick up their teen regardless of the time or location.

How Schools Participate

Public and private schools can participate in this lifesaving program for free by registering at AAA.com/Promise. They will receive a toolkit which includes:

  • Fact Sheets/Resources – Overview of the AAA PROMise program and useful information to make it a success.
  • Pledge Banner – used to gather each student's signature as a commitment to not drive impaired.
  • Drawstring Bags, a AAAPROMise keepsake, and more.

Last year, more than 300 schools participated in the program. The deadline to order is May 31, 2023.

Lifechanging Consequences

Driving impaired can carry lifechanging consequences. Teens could lose their academic eligibility, driver's license, even their life or that of their friends. According to the CDC, Teens are more likely than anyone else to be killed in an alcohol-related crash (even though the minimum legal drinking age in every state is 21). In 2020, 19 percent of 15- to 18-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking.

According to a 2022 AAA teen survey, 30 percent of high school teens report it's likely they or their friends will be under the influence of drugs or alcohol sometime during Prom or Graduation season, and 82 percent believe their peers are likely to drive impaired instead of calling a parent or guardian for help.

Drinking under the age of 21 in North Dakota can result in charges of minor in possession or minor in consumption. Furthermore, drivers under age 21 can be charged for driving under the influence at a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of just .02, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Advice for Teen Drivers

  • Pay Attention. Texting and having other passengers in the vehicle can create dangerous distractions for drivers.
  • Slow Down. Speeding is a factor in one-third of all fatal crashes involving teen drivers.
  • Stay Alert. Prom celebrations can carry well into the late hours. Avoid driving drowsy.
  • Buckle Up. Half of young drivers who die in motor vehicle crashes are not wearing their seat belts.
  • Drive Sober. If you become impaired, pass the keys to a sober driver or call your parents for help.

Advice for Parents

  • Hire a ride. Limousines are not just for looks. Consider chipping in on a chauffeur so teens don't have to decide who's driving.
  • Set the Rules. Establish rules for your teen driver which address safe driving habits and the punishment for breaking them. Consider signing a Parent-Teen driving agreement.
  • Open your Home. Encourage your teen to ask friends to spend the night to keep them off the roads.
  • Be the Example. While driving, model the same behavior you expect from your kids when they drive. Your kids are always watching you, even if they don't admit it.