Amid prom season, MA schools warn of the dangers of drunk driving

Prom is a special time for teenagers, a rite of passage for many. For seniors, it is the last big event before moving on to college or full time employment. Prom is a night most people will remember for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately prom is also a time when teenagers may choose to drink illegally. Tragically, some also choose to get behind the wheel after drinking.

In Massachusetts, high schools across the state are warning teens of the dangers of drunk driving. In some cases, schools are showing students simulated instances of drunk driving crashes. At Whitman-Hanson Regional High School in Whitman, Massachusetts, school officials put on a simulated drunk driving accident every two years to reinforce the message that drunk driving is a dangerous behavior.

Yet despite the schools' concern and safety efforts, it is unclear if simulations actually work. Mitch Librett, a criminal justice professor at Bridgewater State University, recently told The Enterprise that there is no empirical evidence that these simulations are effective outside of anecdotal evidence.

Of course, any measure that helps even one teen make the decision not to drive drunk is commendable. Still, Mothers Against Drunk Driving no longer perform mock accidents in front of students, believing to have found more effective methods to combat drunk driving. The Massachusetts chapter of MADD now focuses more on engaging parents of teens to prevent drunk driving. Teenagers develop the reasoning portion of their brains last, making poor decision-making an easy trap for many teens to fall into. Discussions with parents may help teens recognize just how dangerous drunk driving can be.

The good news is that drunk driving accidents and fatalities have lowered significantly in the last several decades. But teenage drunk driving remains a problem. According to MADD, minors who begin drinking early are seven times more likely to be involved in an alcohol-related accident. Car crashes are the number-one cause of death for teenagers, 25 percent of which involve alcohol.

Prevention is best when dealing with drunk driving. No words can describe the tragedy experienced by the families of teenagers injured or killed in an alcohol-related car accident.

Families of children injured by a drunk driver do have legal options to help with recovery. Parents of injured teens should speak to an experienced personal injury attorney familiar with taking legal action against drunk drivers and holding them accountable for their actions.