Guajardo & Marks Wants High School Seniors to Enjoy Their Proms and Graduations Safely

Unfortunately, we have all heard the horrible stories of a young teenage high school senior who is killed tragically in an automobile accident following their prom, or in the week leading up to his/her graduation, or in the days just following the ceremony. Many of these stories are made so much more tragic by the fact that the accident could have been avoided. One in three drunk driving victims is 16-20 years old.  It is important that we do our best to help them avoid drunk driving situations. As we head into prom and graduation season for local Dallas and surrounding area high schools, Guajardo & Marks wants to take the time to help bring to light many safety tips they hope will be helpful in reminding high school drivers how to stay safe during this special time in their lives and how to celebrate safely.

While prom season and graduations are a time for celebration and excitement about friends, fun times and new chapters in their lives, it is also a time for parties, which often include drinking. There are approximately 10.8 million underage drinkers in the U.S. With this number increasing every year, the key to their safety and the safety of their peers is still somewhat in the control of their parents.  Here are some tips for the parents:

  1. Make sure you and your child have a talk about underage drinking: Approximately one in 100 parents thinks that their teen binge drinks, but the reality is that the number looks more like one in six. Parents shouldn’t turn a blind eye to this statistic. Peer pressure often prevails and teens turn to alcohol to celebrate. Make sure you discuss your expectations.
  2. Review the laws: Although graduation time is a time of new-found freedoms, many teens don’t realize the ramifications of their actions when it comes to alcohol and driving. Drivers younger than 21 will face an automatic six-month suspension of their license if charged with a DUI. So, even if you can’t prevent them from drinking while they are celebrating, they may at least make better decisions about driving/riding if they are educated about the consequences. It is also important that you set a good example. You can’t always be in the car, but your everyday habits — like wearing a seatbelt (front or back seat), not using a cell phone while driving, following the speed limit and driving with both eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel — will make an impression and will carry over to them no matter where they are or who’s driving.
  3. As parents, you should know your state’s social host laws: If you’re hosting a party, it’s important that you not be a part of the problem. You may want your teenager to think you’re cool, but you don’t want to be responsible if someone underage consumes alcohol at your party and is injured or injures someone else in an accident. It is important to hire a professional bartender if you can’t be responsible for keeping an eye on everyone.  It will allow for an extra eye to ensure there is no underage drinking at your party.
  4. Talk, talk and talk some more: Make sure you know where your teen will be “partying” and how they’re getting to and from these gatherings. Always offer to drive them to and from parties. Always make sure your teen knows they can call you no matter what the situation is if they feel they are in an unsafe situation regarding driving, riding or alcohol consumption (even their own).  It may even be wise to contact the parents hosting the party to make sure no alcohol is being served.
  5. Always make sure you have discussed a back-up plan: If your teen/graduate feels that they are in an unsafe situation they should always know they have a back-up plan. Let them know they can always call you, no matter how late it is. You can also set up an Uber or Lyft account that they can access if they need a ride home.

While the parents are an important part of this safety equation and very responsible for their teen’s safety during this exciting time, it is equally important — if not more so — that the teens take an active role in their own safety and in protecting each other while celebrating. Here are some tips for the teens:

  1. Make sure you primp before you hit the pavement: Take your “one last look,” comb your hair, apply that last little bit of powder or lipstick or touch up your blush before you crank up the car. You want to look good and arrive safely. Keeping your eyes on the road will allow that to happen.
  2. Make sure you get plenty of rest:  You will most likely be partying until the wee hours of the morning. Knowing this, make sure you get plenty of rest in advance. If you think you might be tired from all of that dancing at the party, plan to have your parents pick you up. You don’t want to drive, and your friends shouldn’t drive when tired. More fatal car crashes involving teens occur at night.
  3. Keep the numbers down: Don’t allow too many friends to ride with you. The risk of a fatal crash increases with each passenger. If you are a passenger, make sure to remind the driver to put their phone out of reach and turn the music.
  4. No drinking and driving: It is simply illegal to drink and drive. It is also illegal to drink under the age of 21. This is also the law for drugs and other illegal substances. Just don’t do it. It’s the law.
  5. Seatbelts go with everything: Seatbelts may wrinkle your dress, tux or graduation gown, but those wrinkles will go away. They are worth it if that seatbelt saves your life in a car accident. Again, It’s the Law!

Proms and graduations are some of the most special times in a teenager’s life. It is crucial that they get to enjoy them and move on to the next stages of their lives. It is important that the lines of communication are open and your teen knows they can talk to you about the peer pressure they are feeling and/or the other situations they are experiencing as they go through these very important times.  The information you share may just save their life.

At Guajardo & Marks, we want you and your family to know that we are here to answer any questions you may have regarding a catastrophic injury or wrongful death case.  Our experienced team is focused on providing compassionate service and information during a very difficult time in your life.  We are here for you.