Johnston Police Department offers prom, graduation safety tips

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“Graduation season is here,” exclaimed Police Captain Richard C. Norato as he walked around the remains of a totaled Honda Accord that sits on the front lawn outside Johnston High School. “It’s a busy time for seniors with proms and parties.”

Norato, who heads the Traffic/Special Services Division of the Johnston Police Department, looked at the digital sign that delivers a glaring and flashing message: “You drink, you lose!”

Meanwhile, Patrolman Chuck Psilopoulos drove a JPD vehicle — with lights flashing — behind the wreck which was made available for the heart-stopping display by a local towing company.

“We don’t want any scenes like this during the event-filled graduation and prom season,” Norato, an 18-year JPD veteran, said. “We have joined forces with the high school administration and want everyone to be aware of what they should be doing and what they should not be doing to keep prom and graduation activities from ending with a tragedy.”

The JPD’s Traffic/Special Services Division has teamed with Johnston High School officials, most notably Principal Dennis Morrell, and this week issued a long but important list of do’s and don’ts in hopes of preventing any automobile accidents and those nightmare stories that people hear about at this time of the school year.

“There is no more important time than now to remind teens they are not bullet proof,” Norato said. “Let’s all team up to make sure there are no tragedies this (graduation) season.”

The Class of 2017’s Senior Prom will be held next Friday, May 26 at the Viking Hotel in Newport. JHS Graduation is set for Friday, June 9 inside the Providence Performing Arts Center in Providence and Norato said many other events will take place during those dates.

As such, he issued these Tips for Students and Parents.

Tips for students:

-On prom night plan ahead by making arrangements far in advance for safe transportation to and from the prom event and don’t pack the car. Limit the number of passengers.

-Be aware of the dangers and consequences of underage drinking and driving. Never drink and drive or drive with someone who has been drinking and always have back-up plans just in case. Make sure your cell phone is well-charged.

-Do not text, talk or take selfies on your cell phone or use other electronic devices while driving; don’t keep playing with the radio. You can easily become distracted from the road ahead; make sure to wear your seat belt and be sure everyone in the car has one as well.

-Don’t enter a friend’s vehicle or limo where alcohol or drugs are present and do not let anyone enter your vehicle that is in possession of alcohol or drugs. Make sure you have a planned travel route with clear directions to and from the prom event and avoid any unnecessary stops along the way.

Tips for Parents:

-Before your teen leaves for the prom or graduation event, have a discussion regarding their plans for the evening. Know whom they are with and where they are going before and after the prom or party. Make sure you have a list with phone numbers of those accompanying our teen at the prom, post prom or graduation event.

-Make sure you are to be informed of any changes in plans or circumstances where danger may arise to your teen such as being offered alcohol, getting a ride from intoxicated driver, unwanted sexual advance, etc. Provide your teen with extra money in case of an emergency for cab fare or if they an uncomfortable situation.

-Discuss curfew guidelines. Know who is driving to the prom and who will be a passenger. Lime the number of passengers to increase safety and reduce driver distractions. Know the location of the post-prom party and graduation events and who is sponsoring them.

-Talk to your teen about not texting and taking selfies while driving. Explain to your teen about the dangers of drinking and driving or getting in the car with an impaired driver. Tell them they can call you anytime for a ride.

-Know the social host law – No underage drinking in the home!

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