April 10, 2003
Methodist Rehabilitation Center's safety program warns teens to think first on prom night
By Jim Albritton
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—Methodist Rehabilitation Center's Think First for Teens safety program continues its effort to reduce drunk driving and encourage seat belt use among Mississippi teens, especially during prom season.
"We want students to have a fun, exciting and safe Prom night," said Lauren Fairburn, Think First for Teens coordinator. "But it is important that they know how to act responsibly in every situation."
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 16-year-olds are at high risk for driving-related injuries. That factor combined with illegal consumption of alcohol makes some law enforcement officers dread prom night.
“Prom is supposed to be a night of good memories,” said Clinton police officer Sgt. Creston Berch. “Teens need to make sure it turns out that way by never riding with anyone under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. And they need to realize it only takes two seconds to put on a seat belt and prevent an injury that can last the rest of their life.”
Fairburn said that it is important for parents and kids to have a prom night plan.
“All teens should have someone they can call if they need a ride home or get into some kind of trouble and need help,” said Fairburn. “Parents should establish a curfew for their children and know where they plan to be, especially on prom night.”
Fairburn and Berch also recommend that teens:
- Make sure all passengers in their car wear seat belts. Wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of serious injury by as much as 50 percent in a car wreck.
- Drive on well-lit roads and carry a cell phone if possible.
- Plan their evening and know a safe route to their destination.
- Get to know their date before the Prom.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving recommends other ways for teens to have fun without alcohol. MADD suggests teens hold a post dance breakfast, play board games or even host their own dance with parental supervision.
“Prom is only one night out of the year, but it can be a dangerous night if teens don’t play it safe,” said Fairburn. “We want teens to always buckle up and be safe 365 days a year.”
Methodist Rehab’s Think First for Teens injury prevention program is aimed at teenagers and tries to prevent spinal cord, brain and other traumatic injuries by encouraging seat belt use and preventing drunk driving. Physicians and staff at the Jackson hospital work closely with firefighters, police officers, paramedics and other health care workers to encourage teens to always think first about safety and injury prevention.