AAA launches safety program for teen drivers during deadly prom season

AAA is working with Florida schools to prevent prom and graduation season from turning deadly on the road.

The Auto Club Group is launching its annual AAA PROMise program designed to help teens avoid substance-impaired driving, as well as distracted driving.

More than 300 schools signed up for the program last year. It’s free. Those who participated got what are called AAA PROM-ise toolkits: a drawstring backpack with keepsakes and fact sheets. Some schools even held demonstrations to show students the real-life impacts or driving distracted.. or impaired.

According to a 2022 AAA teen survey, 30% of high school teens report it’s likely they or their friends will be under the influence of drugs or alcohol sometime during prom or graduation season, and 82% believe their peers are likely to drive impaired instead of calling a parent or guardian for help.

“Prom and graduation season is a rite-of-passage for teens, many of whom look forward to celebrating with friends where drugs or alcohol may be involved,” said Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesman. “This becomes particularly dangerous when the party spills out onto the road. Unfortunately, that combination of impaired and inexperienced drivers often leads to a tragic end. That’s why we’re offering AAA PROMise; a multi-tiered approach at enhancing the safety of teen drivers and everyone else on the road.”

For the PROMise program, a teen will sign a pledge banner that says the following before celebrating prom or graduation:

  • I promise not to drive impaired or distracted.
  • I promise not to let my friends drive impaired or distracted.
  • I promise my parents I will get home safely or call them for help.

Parents also have an important role to play by making their children feel safe about calling them for help. Parents can promise their children that they will always pick them up regardless of the time or place.

According to the CDC, teens are more likely than anyone else to be killed in an alcohol-related crash. In 2020, 19% of 15 to 18-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking.

Florida’s legal limit for blood alcohol levels in drivers is .08%. For drivers younger than 21, it’s .02%. That means teens can be charged with “driving under the influence” after having only one drink.

There is a deadline for schools to enroll in the program and get the AAA PROMise toolkits. That is May 31.

About the Author: