It’s prom season, and that means lots of fun, great memories and—tragically—more teens dying in traffic accidents.

The American Automobile Association said traffic deaths involving teens are highest this time of year, citing the possibility of more underage drinking and illegal drug use associated with prom and related events.

“There’s the prom. Then there is the prom ‘after-party.’ Prom night is a great opportunity for teens to get dressed up for a night on the town with their friends,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public & Government Affairs, in a press release. “Unfortunately, it is also a night when tragedy can strike and change a teen’s life, due to risky behavior, such as driving while impaired or distracted.”

AAA said inexperienced drivers, distractions from passengers, and nighttime drivers all contribute to traffic deaths involving teens. Motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of death involving teens, AAA said.

What do the statistics show about a connection between prom and traffic deaths? It’s hard to show a direct connection, but there is some data on underage drinking, distracted driving, and drunk driving involving teens.

Riding in a Car With A Drunk Driver is Common

AAA said that last year, 21.1 percent of surveyed teens from District high schools said in the previous 30 days, they rode at least once in a car with someone who had been drinking. Thankfully, just 7 percent of teens said they got behind the wheel after drinking.

When Teens Drink, They Tend to Get Drunk

High schoolers aren’t just drinking a beer or two. One survey of high schoolers in Maryland said that two out of every three teens who drink admit to getting drunk to the point of intoxication. Another survey said 20 percent of Virginia 12th-graders admitted to binge drinking in the previous 30 days.

Distracted Driving is a Problem for Teens

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reported that in six out of every 10 moderate-to-severe crashes involving teens, distraction was a factor. Top reasons for being distracted included interacting with passengers and the use of a cell phone.

AAA is offered a list of driving safety tips for teens heading to the prom. Additional tips can be found on AAA’s teen driving portal.

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