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Groups push for teen prom safety

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Prom and graduation celebrations should be enjoyable, safe experiences for everyone. The Tennessee Highway Safety Office (THSO) is partnering with the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC), Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), and AAA - The Auto Club Group to promote teen driver safety during prom and graduation season. According to the Tennessee Integrated Traffic Analysis
Network (TITAN), there were 83 alcohol-related crashes involving a teen driver this time last year, three of which were fatal. This year, the THSO joins the TABC, SADD, and AAA to reduce teen crashes, injuries, and fatalities through increased enforcement, education, and awareness.

Throughout April and May, special agents from the TABC are stepping up their Underage Sales Tennessee Operation Plan (USTOP) program statewide. USTOP is an initiative to reduce the number of alcohol-related
traffic crashes by conducting minor compliance checks and re-checks to prevent alcohol sales to minors. The TABC encourages citizens to report any licensed establishment that serves alcoholic beverages to minors. To file a complaint on a licensed establishment (restaurant, bar, hotel and/or retail store) that is selling to minors, please visit www.tn.gov/abc or call 615-741-7583. You can directly access the complaint form here.

"Many students feel that after prom and graduation their celebrations must include alcohol, that drinking is a rite of passage," said Vic Donoho, Director of the THSO. "But, there's always an alternative." In an effort to provide a tragedy-free prom and graduation for teens, SADD collaborates with high schools, parents, and communities to host alcohol-free "All-Night Parties" as a safe alternative to the drinking and driving from party to party that often takes place. To get involved, contact Julie Strike at jstrike@sadd.org.

High schools are also encouraged to participate in the AAA PROMise Program. This program is offered by the Auto Club Group Traffic Safety Foundation to protect teen drivers on the roadways. By making the AAA PROMise, teens commit to making the right decision when it comes to underage drinking and impaired driving. Visit www.AAAPROMise.com to order a free AAA PROMise tool kit, which provides promotional items and educational materials on how to stay safe between prom and graduation night.

Students who participate in teen driver safety activities in their communities, like SADD's "All-Night Parties" or the AAA PROMise, can receive points, prizes, and other incentives by signing up at ReduceTNCrashes.org, the THSO's free peer-to-peer program for high-school teens.

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