Florida Programs Target Teens During Prom and Graduation Season
Teens in Florida are the target of many programs highlighting the dangers of drinking and driving. The end of the school year can be a dangerous time for teens, especially with rites of passage such as proms and graduation on the calendar. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nearly 500 teenagers die in alcohol-related traffic accidents during prom and graduation season every year. In Florida, parents and organizations are making sure that young drivers are aware of the dangers before they get behind the wheel on prom night or after one of the many graduation parties.
Some efforts rely on the shock principle, hoping that forcing teens to think about life without a best friend will cause them to think before making potentially dangerous decisions. For example, the Sheriff's Office in Broward County, Fla., has posted a video on its website called "No Future With Alcohol." It contains video of a young girl standing by her boyfriend's casket and discussing his decision to drink and drive. Other programs use mock accidents to focus teenage attention on the risks. In one high school, students staged a mock accident with an allegedly inebriated prom king and queen. The couple disappeared behind a green screen where they entered a previously damaged car. When the audience saw them again, they had been involved in a head-on collision. The local police, fire, and EMS responders also appeared at the high school to cut the couple out of the wreckage.The programs appear to be successful in getting teenagers to think about the consequences of drinking and driving. It worked for the prom king in the enactment. "I'm definitely not drinking or driving that night. I was moved by today. It felt real."
Stressing safe alternatives
The programs also stress options available for teens during this season. They are encouraged to take limousines, buses, or have parents drive them to their places of celebration. Those that have to drive are encouraged to have phone numbers that they can call if they are not in condition to drive. All seem reasonable alternatives especially when considering the risks of having lives permanently altered by one poor decision.