Prom, graduation parties, the beginnings of summertime hangouts- late spring in Kansas and Missouri place teens at the threshold of one of the most dangerous times of the year.  Dangers are so appealing to the young, who often feel invincible behind the wheel of a car.  What can you do to keep your teen safe on the road?  Emphasize safe driving tips and teach teenagers the huge responsibility the face when they slip inside the driver's seat, a responsibility to keep not only themselves and their passengers safe, but everyone else with whom they share the road.

Sometimes teenagers and their immaturity, lack of judgment and experience combine with other factors to create a perfect storm for disaster.  Alcohol is a common factor.  In fact, half of all fatal traffic accidents involving young people between 15 and 20 years-old are alcohol related.  Drinking teens do not wear seat belts.  In the year 2002 alone, 6,000 teens perished in alcohol related crashes.

What can you do to keep teens on during prom and graduation celebrations?  Educate kids on their choices.  Provide safe places for kids to come and have fun.  Do not allow groups of teens to leave prom early and congregate unsupervised at hotels.  Take advantage of organized parties offered through area schools, youth groups, and other social outlets.  Know where your kids are going to be at all times.  It may not be the popular choice to make as a parent, but follow-up with your kids.  Check them out, even if it means physically showing up to check in person.

Teach kids the importance of wearing seat belts.  Teach teenagers the statistics:  seat belts do more to save lives than any other safety device.  State law requires the use of seat belts in Kansas and Missouri.

Be open and understanding with your teenagers.  Build a relationship of trust; make sure they know that they can call you, even at 2:00 in the morning, for a ride if they need help.  Explain to your kids that you would much rather pick them up three sheets to the wind, than to identify them under the coroner's sheet in the morgue.

Reemphasize the importance of driving without distractions.  Texting while driving is statistically more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.  Fun is the name of the game, but teenagers need to be aware of the dangers of distracting the driver.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, teens are four times as likely to be in an accident as a result of distractions. 

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James Roswold
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James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.