For high school students everywhere, prom is one of the most highly anticipated events of the year – and it is right around the corner.

Months of preparation and planning go into making this night magical and memorable.

This spring, Pennsylvania SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) chapters are actively working to ensure this significant night is safe, as well as enjoyable.

Every year, we hear stories about young people using and abusing alcohol on prom night. At this critical time of year, Pennsylvania SADD chapters address the potential risks associated with underage drinking and reinforce SADD’s powerful message that young people can have fun without using alcohol.

Pennsylvania’s SADD chapters are getting the word out through a combination of prevention strategies and activities. These initiatives are designed to raise awareness and educate young people, parents and community members about underage alcohol use, particularly during prom season.

The work that SADD chapters do is vital. The statistics on underage alcohol use and impaired driving are alarming.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are still the leading cause of death for 15 to 20 years olds.

n In 2005, 3,467 15- to 20- year-old drivers were killed and an additional 281,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes.

n The rate of alcohol involvement in fatal crashes is more than three times higher at night than during the day (50 percent vs. 18 percent).

n Fifty-two percent of all fatal crashes during the weekend were alcohol related, compared to 30 percent during the week.

Furthermore, statistics show that the dangers are even more prevalent during prom season:

n Traffic deaths among teens during typical prom season weekends (March 1 through May 31) are higher than any other time of year.

n In 2003, more than half of all fatal car crashes on typical prom weekends involved alcohol.

Felicity DeBacco-Erni is Pennsylvania SADD state coordinator. SADD has thousands of chapters in schools nationwide, including colleges. Its mission is to promote positive decision-making and address attitudes that are harmful to young people.

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