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New Survey: Teens Report Pressure to Engage in High-Risk Behaviors on Prom and Graduation Nights, Impacting Driving Safety

More than 40 Percent Report Pressure to Drink and Drive, or Ride with Someone Who Has Been Drinking

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., May 10 -- A new survey finds that many teens report pressure to engage in unsafe activities on prom and graduation nights, like drinking and driving and driving carelessly (such as speeding). These activities are proven to increase a teen's crash risk. The survey, released today by Chrysler Group's Road Ready Teens program and partner Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), was conducted as part of an innovative online public education effort to reach teens with critical messages about teen driving safety and underage drinking prevention.

"Prom and graduation nights should be times teens remember for the rest of their lives, yet these celebratory times also combine some of deadliest factors for motor vehicle crashes: drinking and driving, driving late at night and driving with multiple passengers," said Luis Morais, Senior Manager -- Safety Planning, Chrysler Group. "Traffic crashes are the No. 1 killer of teens. As we move into the most deadly time of the year for teen drivers, we want to remind parents and teens that prom and graduation season is no time to ignore safe driving habits."

The survey found:

45 percent report pressure to drink and drive or ride with someone who has been drinking. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than half of all fatal traffic crashes on typical prom and graduation weekends involve alcohol.

"The 21 drinking age is based on scientific research: We know that the earlier teens drink, the more likely they are to become alcohol dependent and to drive drunk," said Wendy Hamilton, MADD National President. "More than ever, during prom and graduation season, parents need to be vigilant, and insist that their teens never drink alcohol before 21 and that they not ride in a car with friends who have been drinking."

Almost half (46 percent) plan to drive to prom and graduation night activities; of those, the majority (53 percent) plan to drive a group of teens. Multiple passengers increase a teen's crash risk exponentially: Research shows that teen drivers ages 16 and 17 driving with even one teen passenger are 50 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than when driving alone. With two teen passengers in the vehicle, the risk more than doubles. With three or more teen passengers, it's three to five times more likely that teens will be involved in a crash than if they were driving alone. The increased risk is primarily due to driver distractions.

The majority (86 percent) of teens surveyed said they would be staying out past midnight; half of teens said they plan to stay out past 2 a.m. Research shows that 50 percent of fatalities that occur with a teen behind the wheel happen after dark, even though most teen driving occurs during daylight hours.

  Other findings from the study include:

  * Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of teens surveyed report pressure to
  * 57 percent of teens report pressure to drive carelessly (like speeding)
  * 49 percent of teens report pressure to use drugs
  * 48 percent of teens expect less than half of their peers will buckle up
    on prom and graduation night

The survey gauged perceived peer pressure, rather than asking teens directly if they plan to engage in these unsafe behaviors, because social norms are an indicator of how teens themselves will behave:

"Social norms play a major role when it comes to teens' decision making," said clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst Dr. Mary Lamia, host of KIDTALK with Dr. Mary on Radio Disney. "When teens believe that their peers are engaging in a particular behavior, they are more likely to engage in that behavior themselves. Therefore, the findings from this survey are particularly worrisome, given the high percentages of teens reporting pressure to engage in unsafe activities that could impact their driving safety."

Prom and Graduation Driving Safety Tips

To help keep teens safe during prom and graduation season, Chrysler Group and MADD offer the following safety tips for parents:

  * Remember that the legal drinking age is 21. Insist that your teen never
    drink alcohol before 21 or use other drugs, or ride in a car with
    friends who are under the influence.
  * Require your teen and all passengers to always buckle up.
  * Limit the number of passengers with whom your teen drives.
  * Remind teens to take extra care when driving at night: most teen crashes
    occur after dark.
  * Insist that your teen obey all the rules of the road, including never

Additional resources for both parents and teens are available at and

The online survey of 609 16 to 18-year-olds was conducted April 5 to May 3, 2005 by Chrysler Group and MADD to educate teens about the risks they face as new, inexperienced drivers as prom and graduation season approaches. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 4 percent.

About Chrysler Group's Road Ready Teens

Chrysler Group's Road Ready Teens is a research-driven, home-based program for parents and teens that offers tips and tools designed to help teens gain the necessary driving experience and maturity behind the wheel before tackling high-risk driving situations. Road Ready Teens' materials, including StreetWise, an online video game, a Parent's Guide and other resources are available at no cost on the program's Web site at Road Ready Teens is the latest research-based program from the Chrysler Group designed to keep drivers and families safe.

Road Ready Teens is sponsored by DaimlerChrysler along with partners American Automobile Association (AAA), Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the National Safety Council (NSC), American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA), HP, and WildTangent.

About MADD

MADD is leading anti-drunk driving prevention organization and will commemorate its 25th anniversary this year by celebrating the more than 300,000 lives that have been saved because of its work in cooperation with other health and safety organizations. MADD's mission is to stop drunk driving, support the victims of this violent crime and to prevent underage drinking. Each year nearly 17,000 alcohol-related traffic fatalities and half a million injuries occur nationwide and MADD is committed to supporting the most effective research-based, scientific solutions that will dramatically

save lives including frequent and highly visible sobriety checkpoints and support of legislation to prevent underage drinking prevention.

MADD's BuzzFree Prom, a positive peer-pressure program for high school juniors and seniors, which is currently being implemented in high schools across the country, encourages and rewards responsible behavior by teens during prom and many other youth events throughout the year. When teens sign the MADD "PROMise to Keep it Safe" pledge not to drink or do drugs, they are entitled to discounts on prom-related merchandise and activities. The MADD BuzzFree Prom School Kit also includes powerful posters, a giant signing banner to be displayed in common areas for all students to sign, BuzzFree buttons to show allegiance to the pledge and a BuzzFree ID that community merchants may honor with coupons and discounts. Visit or for more information.