With prom season approaching, students in Lake Zurich, Illinois might think twice before drinking and getting behind the wheel. That's because Operation Prom Night made an appearance this week at the high school and presented a simulated prom night crash caused by a drunk student.
Several students acted as prom-goers dressed in formal wear with first responders present from the local fire department. A female student was splashed with fake blood and laying across the hood of a significantly damaged vehicle.
The purpose of Operation Prom Night is to make students realize how dangerous and potentially deadly it can be to drink and drive or to drive after taking drugs. While the scene may have been graphic in an effort to make a point, many people thought the program was well done and effective.
In Illinois, teenagers and people under the age of 21 are not allowed to have any alcohol in their system when they drive while it is illegal for anyone to drive under the influence of drugs. Special occasions, including prom, often cause a spike in teenage drinking as well as teenage drinking and driving so organizers feel it is important to highlight the dangers before these temptations arise.
Car crashes continue to be the biggest cause of death among U.S. teenagers each year, and though highway deaths have declined lately, too many teenagers continue to die in collisions. Teenagers and other young drivers are at a higher risk of crashes to begin with due to a lack of developed driving skills, lack of experience, and an inability to anticipate dangerous conditions that more experienced drivers tend to possess. Adding drugs or alcohol to the mix slows a teenager's ability to make decisions and slows reaction time, making crashes even more likely. In fact, in 2008, one in seven people killed in a drunk driving accident was under age 21 and therefore not even old enough to legally drink.
It is unclear whether Operation Prom Night will reduce drinking and driving in Lake Zurich this year but organizers hope that parents will reinforce the lessons taught by speaking with their teens at home, expressing the dangers of drinking and driving, and coming up with alternate plans, like having a safe ride available, in case a teen finds themselves in a dangerous situation.