May 21

Celebrate Safely and Avoid Car Accidents This Graduation Season

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It’s that time of year–high school graduations. (Special congrats to my nephew, Joshua Noyes, graduating from Clearwater Central Catholic High School!! Also, congrats to his sisters [my nieces], Taylor and Jordan, graduating from St. Cecelia School). With this special time comes special dangers of car accidents for high schoolers and those on the road with high school drivers.

Not all graduation celebrations are associated with a higher chance for high schoolers to indulge in the consumption of alcoholic beverages. However, most celebrations can bring other distractions to graduating seniors as they drive — friends in the car, text-messaging, thinking about graduation, etc. It is these distractions that could result in car accidents.

We cannot ignore the risk of alcohol at graduation parties. Alcohol is used more commonly by young people than any other drug. According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “Approximately one in four children younger than 18 years old in the United States are exposed to alcohol”. Further, current alcohol use among high school students is greater than 40 percent with 26 percent of students reporting episodic heavy or binge drinking. As a result, the risks of a car accident involving a car full of graduating seniors are significantly increased related to alcohol use. Sadly, we read about at least one of these car accidents each year.

Here are some tips for seniors who plan on attending a graduation party:

  • Share all of your plans for the evening with your parents, giving them locations and phone numbers.
  • Stay with a group of friends throughout the night. Watch out for each other.
  • Make sure your cell phone is fully charged before leaving home for the night.
  • If you don’t have a cell phone, take extra money with you in case you need to call for a cab or if an emergency arises.
  • Don’t leave possessions or any of your beverages/food unattended.
  • Always wear your seatbelt.
  • DON’T drink or use drugs and driveor get in a vehicle with someone else who has.

But, we cannot just focus on the dangers of alcohol at graduation parties. Sadly, many graduating seniors die or get hurt in Florida car accidents without consuming an ounce of alcohol. Distractions while driving can result in serious automobile accidents. The biggest distraction is the text message or cell phone. If there is only one day for senior not to use their cell phones while driving, it should be graduation day. Also, friends in the car can distract the driver. Studies have shown that the risk of a teenager being involved in a car crash doubles when there are friends in the car. Loud music, conversations, Tom Foolery can all cause the driver to cause a collision. If you are a passenger in a car, do not distract the driver–it is that simple!

Congrats to all high school grads (especially Josh)!! Be safe so you too can enjoy your 30-year high school graduation like me this year!


Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes represents those injured in car accidents, motorcycle crashes, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents and other types of personal injury matters. His Clearwater law firm – Perenich Caulfield Avril Noyes – is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Pinellas County. Call Attorney Matthew Noyes now at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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