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Measures to Make Sure Prom Night Has Happy Ending

May 24, 1999

New, young drivers may lack the experience, judgment and maturity required to master the full range of driving situations, according to insurance researchers. The risk for teens is heightened during celebrations such as prom, homecoming and graduation. Increased distractions such as boisterous passengers, music, food, drink, nighttime visibility and general excitement may divert the young driver's attention from the road. There are measures you can take to help ensure your teen makes it safely to and from the party:

* Arrange for a cab or limousine. Join with other parents in hiring a van and driver to provide an evening of transportation for all the teens in your community.

* If your teen must drive or ride with another young driver, discuss guidelines in advance.

* More passengers create more potential distractions for the driver. Prohibit driving under the influence. In addition to legal repercussions, make it clear that if your teen does drink or use drugs and drive, you revoke all driving privileges.

* Know exactly where and when your teen will be driving and rule out any unplanned detours.

* Reduce distractions. Agree there will be no eating, drinking or use of the car phone while driving; such distractions compete for the inexperienced driver's attention.

* Buckle up. Teens ignore safety belts more than any other group of drivers and passengers. Safety belt use is essential.

* Check condition of car. Make certain that your teen is driving a car that is in good condition and that it is a vehicle he has driven before.

* Establish a contact for your teen to call should he feel at any time that he should not be driving or riding with another young driver.

Household safety

These are especially hazardous household items. Buy small quantities. Discard unneeded extras. Make sure they are always out of a child's reach.

* Antifreeze

* Windshield washer solutions

* Drain cleaners

* Toilet bowl cleaners

* Insecticides

* Artificial nail removers

* Topical anesthetics (products that may be used for sunburn pain)

* Detergents

* Automatic dishwasher detergents

* Furniture polish

* Perfume and after-shave

* Mouthwash

* Gasoline, kerosene and lamp oil

* Paint and paint thinner

* Mothballs

* Alcoholic beverages

Source: Allstate Insurance; National Poison Center

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