Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, but unfortunately, it means a more dangerous time for teen drivers: the “100 Deadliest Days.” Last year, AAA reported that from 2010 to 2014, during the 100 days following Memorial Day, more than 5,000 people died in crashes involving teen drivers. When compared to other days of the year, the average number of deaths from crashes involving teen drivers, ages 16-19, increased by 16% during those 100 days.
One of the reasons for the spike is simply due to timing; school is out for the summer and more teens are on the road. Without school to drive back and forth to, they may be driving more recreationally than purposefully and on roads or areas they aren’t as familiar with, according to the National Safety Council.
Teen drivers are also more likely to have friends as passengers when driving during the summer. The National Safety Council considers passengers an even more dangerous distraction for teen drivers than texting! This is because distraction from texting is likely only a few seconds, whereas a passenger can be a distraction for the entire drive. In fact, the National Safety Council reports passengers increase the risk of a teen driver having a fatal crash by at least 44%!
In general, distracted driving plays a large part in the 100 deadliest days – it’s one of the leading causes of crashes for teen drivers. Nearly 60% of teen crashes involve distracted drivers. The AAA Foundation, in collaboration with the University of Iowa, conducted a comprehensive eight-year research project around crash videos of teen drivers. In analyzing the moments leading up to a crash, the study found consistent trends in distractions with teens behind the wheel. Those include:
Other examples of distracted driving include:
With all of this information, it can seem scary for drivers during the summer months. But, it is important for everyone to be aware of the potential dangers that surround this time of the year.
Before the summer begins, parents and teens, take the time to sit down together and talk about what it means to drive safely in your house. Go over the basics, including distracted driving and consider implementing new rules for summertime driving around cell phone use, passengers and more.
Here are some safe driving tips for you to talk about:
Limit passengers. Parents, if your teen is a new driver, reconsider allowing them to have passengers in the vehicle. In fact, the law may have already done this for you. Many states restrict newly licensed drivers from having more than one young passenger in the car. Make sure you know what laws and restrictions apply where you live.
Limit cell phone use. Check your local and state laws and regulations – some states prohibit teen drivers from using a cell phone entirely when behind the wheel. Parents should set limits with teen drivers, such as no cell phone at all, using a cell phone only with a hands-free device, etc.
Communicate whereabouts. With road trips and vacations, driving in unfamiliar areas may happen often during the summer. Teens, let your parents know where you are going. Map out the route you plan to take and let your parents know in advance. This will ease both parent's and teen's anxiety about driving in new areas.
Parents, as always, lead by example – take stock of your own bad habits. Do you frequently text and drive? It’ll be harder to tell your child never to text and drive if you are guilty yourself. Do your best to break your own bad driving habits and set a good example for your teen driver to make this a safe and fun summer! Teens, always be sure to use these safe driving practices. If we work together to be more aware of our own driving habits, we can all have a happy and safe summer!