Prom, graduation season among deadliest times of year

April and May mark high school prom and graduation season for many Louisiana high schools, but the two months are also among the deadliest for motorists, according to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. In May 2006, 91 people were killed in automobile crashes in Louisiana, making the month that typically marks high school graduations the second deadliest of the year.

May also contains the three-day Memorial Day weekend, which many regard as the unofficial kickoff to summer. April is when many high school proms occur, but in 2006, the month was the fourth deadliest for motorists, with 87 deaths.

More than half of highway deaths in April and May 2006 were caused by crashes involving alcohol, said Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the LHSC.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens. In 2006, 74 drivers ages 15 to 20 were killed in nonpedestrian vehicle crashes in Louisiana, representing almost 11 percent of drivers killed statewide. Thirty-one alcohol-related fatal crashes in 2006 in Louisiana involved drivers in this age group.

LeBlanc said close parental supervision; education, alcohol-free parties and enforcement by police and sheriffs’ departments can sharply reduce the number of fatal crashes during prom and graduation seasons.

“Teens should be … taught to not drink and drive, ride in a vehicle being driven by someone who is intoxicated, or engage in risky behavior such as speeding,” Leblanc said.