Know the Dangers: DUI Prom Night Crash Fatalities

Every May and June during prom season, a dreaded and dreadful headline appears. Last May in New Jersey, it was “Teens die in crash hours after high school prom.” Two teenage girls were killed and two others injured in the early morning hours after their high school prom. The 17-year-old driver veered off the road and hit a tree.  Their school district superintendent told the press that the girls were in the 10th and 11th grades, saying, ““Our hearts and prayers go out to the families….” How often must we read those words, or something like them?

Party, holidays, celebration, nightlife and people concept – smiling young beautiful girls dancing in club
The grim facts, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are these:
  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens.
  • In 2015, 2,333 teens in the U.S. ages 16–19 were killed, and 221,313 were treated in emergency departments, for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes in 2014.
  • That means that six teens ages 16–19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries.
  • In 2013, young people ages 15-19 represented only 7% of the U.S. population. However, they accounted for 11% ($10 billion) of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries.
  • Teen drivers 16 to 19 years old are four times more likely than older drivers to crash.
  • About a third of alcohol-related teen traffic fatalities occur between April and June, peak prom season.
  • Young drivers (ages 16-20) are 17 times more likely to die in a crash when they have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% than when they have not been drinking.
Prom is an important rite of passage for teenagers, but the risks are real. Teens are likely to drink on prom night: some have admitted that they expect to have as many as four drinks on the extended party night. There is some good news, however: the CDC reports that the percentage of teens in high school who drink and drive has decreased by more than half (54 percent) since 1991. Research has revealed that several factors help to keep teens safe from drunk driving, from parental involvement to minimum legal drinking age and zero tolerance laws, and graduated driver licensing systems. More on parental involvement to come: talking about drinking and driving and then talking about it some more, and not just once or twice, but regularly, makes a critical difference.
Craig Follis has extensive experience in litigation, negotiating and settling suits, and providing legal opinions on liability and insurance coverage. You can reach him at (888) 703-0109 or via email at


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