AAA: Prom and Graduation Season is Deadly for Teen Drivers in Rutherford County

Mar 15, 2023 at 10:34 pm by WGNS News

AAA is working with Tennessee schools to prevent prom and graduation season from turning deadly on the road. The Auto Club Group is offering its annual AAA PROMise program in an effort to prevent teen substance-impaired driving, as well as distracted driving.

WGNS spoke to Rutherford County School Resource Officer Scott Culp about underage drinking on prom night, which occurs at high schools throughout the area in April. Culp said the Sheriff’s Office plans to be proactive, even visiting local convenient stores to remind store clerks to check ID’s and be on the lookout for fake ID’s…


As for teen driving, AAA's Stephanie Milani said, “The combination of impairment and inexperience behind the wheel can have deadly consequences. ” Milani is the TN Public Affairs Director for AAA – The Auto Club Group. Milani said AAA is offering the PROMise program at no cost to schools to raise awareness about the dangers of driving impaired and distracted, while also making sure students arrive home safely during two of the most exciting times in high school – prom and graduation.

AAA PROMise Program Overview - By making the AAA PROMise, teens pledge to make the responsible decision to never get behind the wheel impaired or distracted and to make sure their friends do the same: 

  • I promise not to drive impaired or distracted. 
  • I promise not to let my friends drive impaired or distracted. 
  • I promise my parents I will get home safely or call them for help.

Teens also agree to openly communicate with their parent/guardian regarding a plan for getting home safely on special nights such as prom and graduation. 

Parents also have an important role to play by making their teens feel safe about calling them for help. Parents can PROMise that they will always pick up their teen, regardless of the time or location.

How Schools Can Participate: Public and private schools can participate in this lifesaving program for free by registering at They will receive a toolkit which includes:

  • Fact Sheets/Resources – Overview of the AAA PROMise program and useful information to make it a success. 
  • Pledge Banner – used to gather each student’s signature as a commitment to not drive impaired. 
  • Student Giveaways - Drawstring Bags, a AAAPROMise keepsake, and more. 

The deadline to order a AAA PROMise toolkit is May 31st, 2023.

Lifechanging Consequences: Driving impaired can carry lifechanging consequences. Teens could lose their academic eligibility, driver’s license, even their life or that of their friends. According to the CDC, Teens are more likely than anyone else to be killed in an alcohol-related crash (even though the minimum legal drinking age in every state is 21). In 2020, 19 percent of 15- to 18-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking. 

According to a 2022 AAA teen survey: 

  • 30% of high school teens report it’s likely they or their friends will be under the influence of drugs or alcohol sometime during prom or graduation season 
  • 82% believe their peers are likely to drive impaired instead of calling a parent or guardian for help because they’re afraid of getting in trouble 
  • 21% of teens have ridden in a car with an impaired driver

Tennessee’s legal limit for blood alcohol level in drivers is .08 percent.  For drivers younger than 21, it’s .02 percent. That means teens can be charged with “driving under the influence” after having only one drink.

Advice for Teen Drivers 

  • Pay Attention. Texting and having other passengers in the vehicle can create dangerous distractions for drivers. 
  • Slow Down. Speeding is a factor in one-third of all fatal crashes involving teen drivers. 
  • Stay Alert. Prom celebrations can carry well into the late hours. Avoid driving drowsy. 
  • Buckle Up. Half of young drivers who die in motor vehicle crashes are not wearing their seat belts. 
  • Drive Sober. If you are impaired, pass the keys to a sober driver or call your parents for help.

Advice for Parents 

  • Hire a ride. Limousines are not just for looks. Consider chipping in on a chauffeur so teens don’t have to decide who’s driving. 
  • Set the Rules. Establish rules for your teen driver which address safe driving habits and the punishment for breaking them. Consider signing a Parent-Teen driving agreement. 
  • Open your Home. Encourage your teen to ask friends to spend the night to keep them off the roads. 
  • Be the Example. While driving, model the same behavior you expect from your kids when they drive. Your kids are always watching you, even if they don’t admit it.


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About the 2022 AAA Teen Survey - The 2022 AAA Teen Survey was conducted online among teens ages 16 - 19 living in The Auto Club Group territory from January 13, 2022 – January 18, 2022. A total of 1,000 teens completed the survey. Results have a margin of error of ± 3.1 percentage points. Total survey responses are weighted by gender and state teen population to ensure reliable and accurate representation of teens in The Auto Club Group territory. 

About AAA - The Auto Club Group - The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America with more than 13 million members across 14 U.S. states, the province of Quebec and two U.S. territories. ACG and its affiliates provide members with roadside assistance, insurance products, banking and financial services, travel offerings and more. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 62 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA’s mission is to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve traffic safety. For more information, get the AAA Mobile app, visit, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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