It’s a shocking yet humbling statistic, but 41 percent of teenagers say they plan to drink or take drugs sometime during the prom or graduation season.
A recent AAA survey of high school students between the ages of 16 and 19 in four states, including Florida, also revealed a more startling fact: Some 84 percent of teens say that if they are under the influence, they would rather get behind the wheel than call their parents for help. The main reason? Because they fear getting in trouble with their parents for drinking underage.
More than 80 percent also fear being in a crash that injures or kills themselves or someone else, while another 69 percent are afraid of going to jail.
“More than 30 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the United States results from alcohol-impaired driving crashes,” said Michele Harris, director of AAA Traffic Safety Culture of The Auto Club Group, in a release. “We need real solutions to end these needless tragedies.”
The survey was conducted in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Wisconsin as part of AAA’s promotion of its AAA Promise program. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.
That program encourages parents to speak with their teen before prom and graduation season, and to find a way to get home safely. If there is a chance of a teen drinking and driving, or getting into the car with someone else driving, parents are able to pick up their teen, and AAA will tow the family car home free of charge.
“We want the student to promise their parents they will make adult decisions on prom night, the parent to promise their teen they will pick them up should they not have a safe way home, and AAA promises to give a free tow home of the family vehicle, whether or not they are a AAA member,” Harris said.
High school students can sign up for AAA Promise by texting the word “promise” to 46787, or by visiting AAA.com/PROMise.
Pasco High School hosts its prom April 26. Land O’ Lakes, Steinbrenner, Wharton and Wesley Chapel high schools will have their proms May 10. Sunlake, Freedom and Wiregrass Rand high schools will follow with their proms May 17.
Zephyrhills High School hosted its prom in early April.