RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – It is that time of year again. Teens across the country and here in central Virginia are getting ready for prom season. That means that at the same time warnings are going out to parents and students about being safe on that important night.
Bruce Stone is Safety Manager for Farm Bureau Insurance. He joins us now on First at 4 to talk more about this threat.
Ryan Nobles: First, it seems that there has been an intense focus on safety on prom night for a long time. Probably more than 20 years. Why is it something that we still have to talk about every year with young people?
Bruce Stone: Well, I think because young people are young people, and it's an exciting night. Things do happen. We just want to make sure that we minimize as many as those things as we can.
Ryan Nobles: So even though those messages have been going out for a long time, is there is still a real threat for kids when they go out on prom night if they don't make the right decisions?
Bruce Stone: l think when you add an automobile, you add youth, you add inexperience and unfortunately alcohol and things of that nature, yes, the potential is there and very a large potential.
Ryan Nobles: What precautions would you suggest to patents and to students before they even go out on that night? What precautions should they be taking right now to prepare themselves to be safe?
Bruce Stone: I would suggest they start with talking to the parents, letting the parents know what their plans are and trying to create a partnership there, so to speak, not only with the parents but the friends that you will be involved with, and let each of them know where you're going to be and what time you will be in and just sort of keep the lines of communication open.
Ryan Nobles: And I would imagine there has got to be a greater focus, from even when I was going to the prom, on the use of cell phones in cars. Has that become even more dangerous, or as dangerous, as kids drinking and driving on prom night?
Bruce Stone: I guess it depends on who you ask, but yes, I think cell phones have become a huge distraction and of course distraction creates problems when driving an automobile. Talking on a cell phone, maybe eating a hamburger and drinking a drink at the same time, it's hard to continue to drive the car safely, so we need to focus on driving and wait until we stop the vehicle to do these other things such as talking on the cell phone.
Ryan Nobles: Where do you think the message comes from the best? Because obviously parents are going to give this message out, obviously teachers and faculty advisers are going do it, but do some teens themselves have so stand up and say to their peers, we need to be safe on this night, we need to make smart decisions?
Bruce Stone: Absolutely I think it's about personal responsibility. Parents have a role, teens have a role, and the community has a role. But I think that it all boils down to the individual taking the responsibility for their own actions. And the teen can do that.
See the video at right for the full interview.