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Will your teen be safe on prom night?

Soon students all over Illinois will be heading off to proms. But just how safe will they be riding with friends or dates who are also inexperienced teen drivers?

It's a question that troubles parents, as well it should. The number one cause of teen deaths in America is auto accidents. In just 2013 alone, 2,163 teenagers age 16 to 19 died, and another 243,243 sought treatment in emergency rooms for injuries from wrecks. Put another way, every day six teenagers in that age range die in auto accidents.

This same age group has the highest risk of getting into collisions than any other drivers. For each mile that they drive, teens from 16 to 19 have three times the likelihood of being involved in a fatal accident than those 20 and older.

Males have nearly two times the rate of dying in a crash than females in the same age range. Driving with other teenage passengers raises the risk of accidents. For each passenger in the vehicle, the risk grows. Inexperienced teens who have just gotten their driver's licenses are at the highest risk of all.

Certainly parents can't protect their teenagers from every hazard, but there are ways to reduce risks. Pool resources with other prom-goers to rent a limo or party bus, or corral an older sibling to don a suit and play chauffeur for the evening. Make your teen and his or her date pledge not to drink or ride with anyone who is impaired. Promise to pick up your teen without lectures should they get intoxicated anyway.

If the worst occurs and your teen is injured while riding with friends, if he or she is a minor, you will have to file any claim for damages for them.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Teen Drivers: Get the Facts," accessed April 22, 2016

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