Prom and graduation are milestones in a teenagers' life. They are events that mark progress in a young person's life. However, these times also mean there is a marked increase in the number of young people using drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, this time has also become very deadly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1/3 of alcohol related traffic fatalities involving teens occur during prom and graduation season. It is why many teens and schools are starting new programs to keep teens from partaking in these activities. The programs reward those who pledge to abstain from risky behaviors during prom and graduation.

The statistics about alcohol related deaths for minors and other risky behaviors are steep. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 5,000 people under the age of 21 die annually from underage drinking. Of those, 1,900 are related to drunk driving, and alcohol has been a factor in crashes responsible for nearly half of all deaths of 15- to 20-year-olds during prom season. Additionally, studies have linked underage drinking to other health hazards, such as contracting a sexually transmitted disease through unprotected sex.

Many of the progams to combat this issue during the season are very simple. Schools have teens sign pledge cards that are promises to be drug and alcohol free. One school even sells daisies, representing life, to raise awareness and add romance to the actual prom. Other schools are promoting National Youth Traffic Safety Month, which encourages safe-driving projects near prom and graduation season. Harris Blackwood, director of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety in Georgia said "The more we do to raise awareness, the better. We lose more teens this time of year than at any other time and we are using every tool in our arsenal to keep that number low."

Prom and graduation are exciting times. Unfortunately, for many teens it is also a deadly time. These programs, which raise awareness and protect lives, are great tools in helping keep teenagers safe. 

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