School resource officers stood at the exit of the senior class parking lot to talk to each student leaving school Thursday afternoon.
“We’re trying to promote alcohol awareness with these kids by handing out flyers and telling them to say no to drinking and driving,” said Tupelo Police Cpl. John Bramble. “It’s not a big problem we’ve had but we want to get ahead of the game and make sure we’re being proactive rather than being reactive.”
Officers talked with most Tupelo High School seniors through car windows Thursday as they left school, telling them to have fun Saturday and to make sure to drive safe.
“We haven’t had any (recent) crashes in conjunction with or because of the prom but we have had some underage drinking activity,” said Officer Alan Chavers.
While Tupelo hasn’t experienced a rash of teens driving under the influence during prom, it is a problem in the state.
A Center for Disease Control survey of high school students, ages 16 and over, between 1991 and 2011 showed 12.6 percent of Mississippi students drank and drove within 30 days of taking the survey.
Mississippi is tied with Texas with the sixth highest percentage of high school students who reported drinking and driving on the CDC survey.
A 2010 teen driver study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 95 people died in accidents involving a driver between the ages of 15 and 20 that year in Mississippi.
A similar 2010 study showed 641 people died in accidents in Mississippi where the driver tested positive for alcohol.
“We just want these kids to know they don’t need alcohol to have fun this weekend,” Bramble said.