Senior students at Freeport High School, in Freeport, New York, have to pass a required course if they want to go to Prom. No, it’s not math, science or history related, but it is intended to help keep them alive.

The required course is all about the dangers of texting and driving. Students have to complete the course which includes in-class instruction, a video, and time spent in a driving simulator trying to text while driving. They must also sign a pledge NOT to ever text while driving. Once they do all this they eligible to attend Prom. So far, 500 students have showed up to take the course and sign the pledge.

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention have reported that vehicle collisions remain the leading cause of death for teenagers in America. They also cite data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which shows that teenagers are the most likely drivers to text behind the wheel. They also have shown data which indicates that vehicle collisions caused by distracted driving now outnumber the annual number of vehicle collisions caused by drivers under the influence of alcohol.

This has prompted public safety groups around the country to bring these statistics to the attention of high school students-both those who are just about to get their drivers’ license and those who have recently acquired their driver’s license-in an effort to warn them of the dangers of distracted driving and keep them safe.

In Freeport the school has devoted precious class instruction time and sought the voluntary participation of the senior student body to get their public safety message across. They have also allowed junior students to attend the class but have not made attendance mandatory if they want to go to Prom. Of course, next year those junior students will be seniors and then they won’t have the option of sitting out the safety course if they want to go to their Senior Prom.