Many words come to mind when thinking about high school graduation:
“Hospital,” and “funeral” aren’t on the list. Hopefully these words won’t enter the minds of any high school senior’s family in Southern California during graduation season.
From late May through mid-June, thousands of high school graduates walk and roll across stages throughout the OC and LA area. The ritual usually includes a handshake, a diploma and endless photo ops. And the ceremony is often followed by a party—or many parties. Unfortunately, while planned as fun celebrations, the post-graduation events can result in tragedies for teens who drink and drive, text and drive, take selfies and drive, drive after staying up all night, or encounter a drunk driver on the road.
Special nights for teens, like graduation and prom, often involve driving under the influence of peers, alcohol and little sleep—a recipe for deadly car accidents. Lawyers have seen too many cases of celebrations that ended with hospital stays or funerals.
Many communities or schools host “grad nights” after graduation—all-night parties for the entire class with no drugs, alcohol or driving. These are billed as safe alternatives to teens cruising from one graduation party to another, often drinking at or between parties.
Positive peer pressure is one of the best ways to prevent car accidents among teens. Events such as grad nights create an atmosphere that says partying with friends is encouraged, but partying with alcohol and drugs is not. Grad nights acknowledge that teens want to be up all night, but prevent them from driving around as they get tired.
Raising awareness about the dangers of drunk or distracted driving in a teen-friendly way can reduce deaths from the number one killer of teens: car accidents. Santa Clarita County schools’ Drive Safe White Ribbon Campaign started 20 years ago to reduce the number of teens dying in car crashes, particularly on graduation night.
Deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station visit each high school before graduation, speaking to students about safe driving, distributing white ribbons for seniors to wear on their graduation gowns, and handing out lists with the names of teens aged 14 to 20 who died in vehicle accidents in Santa Clarita Valley youth over the preceding five years. The campaign appears to be working: in 2003, 17 teens were on the list and in 2017, only 7 teens are on the list.
Other approaches to saving teen drivers’ lives include having seniors sign pledges that they will avoid drinking and driving or using an electronic device while driving. Involving communities in supporting safe driving among teens is another effective approach. The Santa Clarita County Drive Safe White Ribbon Campaign distributes white ribbons throughout the county and encourages residents to wear their white ribbons during graduation week.
Cerritos Legal’s car collision lawyers celebrate our community’s high school graduates and encourage them to drive safely by getting enough sleep, focusing on the road, and avoiding drugs and alcohol before or while driving.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in an automobile crash, call the car accident lawyers at Cerritos Legal today at 562-865-9356 for your free consultation.