If Your Date is Drowsy, Don’t Let Them Drive
Prom is a natural rite of passage for high schoolers. The dresses, the tuxedos, the dance and the after-parties are a top priority as teens plan their big night out. However, traffic safety experts warn parents that this time of celebration can quickly turn into tragedy. An estimated 15,000 young people are killed every year in traffic crashes, with a noticeable spike during prom season. While many parents worry about drinking and driving, this is just one of many things that should concern them. Proms and after-parties often run into the morning, so sleep deprivation can also be a risk factor. With lack of proper sleep, the body begins to shut down, causing “micro-sleeps” where the eyes close for a few seconds or longer. During a three-second micro-sleep, a car at highway speed will have traveled more than half the length of a football field – enough to send it off the road or across the divider into oncoming traffic. Drowsiness is a condition most drivers fail to recognize and many parents don’t focus on. But drowsy driving can be as deadly as drinking and driving.
Tell your teen about the warning signs of tiredness that they should think about before they drive home after a long night of prom festivities.
These signs include:
Difficulty focusing with frequent blinking, daydreaming or not remembering the last few miles driven, head snaps or nodding, repeated yawning or rubbing eyes, drifting out of the lane, tailgating or hitting rumble strips.
If a teen gets behind the wheel and begins to doze, they should pull off the road. They should take a nap, or call their parents for a ride home. Speeding, alcohol use, multiple passengers and driving between 12:00 am and 3:00 am represent the deadliest combination of factors and a prime recipe for car crashes. A good solution to the drowsy driving problem is for parents to not allow their teen to drive after midnight. If transportation is required after midnight, make alternate arrangements. Act as a chauffeur, car pool with another parent or arrange for a taxi or limo service. Remember, the prom is just one night a year. To be really safe, parents must concern themselves with teen driver safety 365 days a year. Even with prom night occurring in the spring, most fatal car crashes actually occur in the summertime. Safe driving doesn’t take a holiday. Marissa Willman echoes the advice to keep in touch with teens during this season in her ehow article, Safety Tips for Prom Night. Her article will give you some great tips on how a parent can keep track of their teen and keep them safe on prom night. Continue reading