(Springfield, MO) -- Three area high schools are celebrating prom tonight and a prevention program is gearing up to help students stay safe and sober.
Statistics show prom and graduation season is the deadliest time of year for teens on the roads.
Parkview High School is one of 35 schools in the Ozarks participating in the Safe and Sober Program to urge students to stay drug and alcohol free during prom and graduation.
"This program is just one cog in the larger wheel of prevention," says Kurt Larson, founder of the Safe and Sober program, which has reached more than 30,000 students in the Ozarks. "We ask them to voluntarily take a pledge to be drug and alcohol free on prom night and beyond and we ask them to make it their lifestyle."
The program conveys emotional stories and shows engaging videos.
"Most kids go into prom night not expecting to drink and they fall prey to the pressure that we all know to well and so have the pledge, the commitment to your parents and friends is just one extra reason they can use," adds Larson.
Local law enforcement is helping to reinforce. The Greene County Sheriff's Office will have a DWI checkpoint set up Saturday for Cinco de Mayo to crack down on drunk drivers. Even minors have been caught at these checkpoints.
"It's a shame," says Lt. Christian Conrad. "Unfortunately, it's a sign of the times as we all know. Kids are taking alcohol and drugs at a younger age and what they don't realize it has a long term effect."
The CDC says students 15 years or younger who experiment with alcohol are four times more likely to have a substance abuse problem.
"The teenage brain is like a Ferrari," says Larson. "It's a Ferrari with no brakes. It has powerful impulses that are under poor control and combining that with alcohol is a recipe for disaster."
Larson says 70-80 percent of students at each school will pledge. At Glendale High, 90 percent of the students have done just that.
The high school with the highest participation can win up to $1,000 for their class.