Health Beat with Dr. Alicia Arnold: Prom safety

In the next few weeks, many high school students will be attending proms across our area. Dr. Alicia Arnold joined us to share some advice for parents that could help keep their kids safe.

Meghan Kulig: Let's start with driving safety.

Dr. Arnold: Young, inexperienced drivers are the most crash-prone on the road. Chances of a fatal crash increase with each additional passenger, so you can consider limiting the number of teens you allow your son or daughter to have as passengers while driving.

Meghan Kulig: What are the statistics on drunk driving?

Dr. Arnold: Every 53 minutes on average, someone is killed in a drunk driving crash. Vehicle crashes are the leading cause for death in 15-20 year olds and 31 percent of teen traffic deaths are alcohol related. Underage drinking kills 1,900 people in car crashes every year.

Meghan Kulig: Besides driving, can you tell us about the other types of injuries underage drinking can be associated with?

Dr. Arnold: A recent report by Mothers Against Drunk Driving said that over two-thirds of deaths associated with underage drinking actually did not involve traffic accidents. They were incidents like alcohol poisoning, homicides, suicides, burns, falls, and drowning. Of course, there are risks of other consequences, like sexual assault, unplanned pregnancies, and sexually transmitted diseases.

Meghan Kulig: Any tips for parents when talking to their kids about this subject?

Dr. Arnold: Just taking that first step in bringing it up is important. Research has shown that parents are an important influence on teens' decisions, despite how it may sometimes feel. Teens often overestimate how many of their peers are using alcohol. You can discuss how your teen can handle potentially risky situations that may come up. Show respect for your teen's desire for independence but set clear rules for your teen. Emphasize to your teen that you care about them and their safety.

Meghan Kulig: How about safety reminders for prom night?

Dr. Arnold: Remind your teen that it is a myth that drinking coffee or getting some fresh air will sober a person up enough to drive. Remind them to never get in the car with a driver who has been drinking. You can also offer to be a resource to pick your child up if he or she needs help or a safe ride home.

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