The question is old, the solution fairly stagnant, but every year, both remain: How can we prevent underage drinking on prom night? The answer, talk to your kids.
This year, as in years past, St. Peters-based Krey Distributing Co., a distributor of Anheuser-Busch products, will put a little muscle behind its StreetSmart Program, designed to keep prom night fun without the booze, by promoting education in local schools.
On March 31 at Fort Zumwalt North High School in O’Fallon and on April 8 at St. Dominic High School, also in O’Fallon, Krey was to sponsor a program with speakers who talk to students about drunken driving. Sarah Panzau is one of those speakers. She lost an arm and nearly died in a drunken-driving accident in 2003. The program at Fort Zumwalt was to include speeches by paramedics and other medical professionals.
“Everybody’s trying to look for a way to be more preventive,” said Kelly Nation, director of marketing for Krey Distributing.
Kim Carter, an assistant superintendent for Fort Zumwalt School District, said the district hosts programs aimed at curbing underage drinking every year, but this would be the first time StreetSmart has put on a program at Fort Zumwalt North. Carter said the program’s approach provides an opportunity to discuss drinking with students without condescension.
“It’s not a lecture, it’s just a real-life view,” Carter said of the paramedic presentations.
The presentations give students real-life examples of the results of getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. Carter said the school district hosts such presentations so car accidents don’t curb prom night fun.
“We want them to have a great time, and we also want to remind them that we want them to be safe,” she said.
According to research by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, deaths from drunken driving on prom night have fallen 38 percent nationwide since 1982. Missouri, however, has seen a 22 percent increase in alcohol-related incidents during that period.
Carter did not have statistics related to the number of accidents involving students at Fort Zumwalt North, but thinks programs that aim to curb teenage drinking and driving are effective, saying the district has not had a drunken driving fatality on prom night in several years.