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For teenagers who recently got their driver’s licenses, summers can mean seemingly-endless months of newfound freedom. However, all of that new independence comes at a cost – a sometimes deadly cost. Teen drivers are more inexperienced than adult drivers, making them much more likely to cause or be involved in serious accidents. That increased likelihood comes to a head each summer when teens get out of school and hit the road. The result? A deadly period of time each year known as the “100 Deadliest Days” when crashes involving teen drivers spike by a shocking amount. What can be done about this spike in teen accidents?
AAA calls the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day the “100 Deadliest Days” of the year. During this period, the average number of fatal automobile accidents involving teen drivers increases by 15 percent compared to the rest of the year. On average, around 1,022 people lose their lives each year in accidents involving inexperienced teen drivers during this deadly period. Last year, AAA revealed that between 2010 to 2014, during the 100 days following Memorial Day, more than 5,000 people died in crashes involving teenage drivers.
AAA attributes these deadly crashes to three common factors: distraction, not wearing seat belts, and speeding. Not only are teens drivers distracted by their phones, but during the summer, they’re also likelier to have friends riding along as passengers which can lead to further distractions and encourage unsafe driving behaviors. In fact, nearly 60% of teen crashes involve distracted drivers, with top causes being talking or attending to other passengers, talking or texting on the phone, and looking at or attending to something inside the vehicle (e.g. adjusting the radio, eating, etc.).
It’s important that parents and teens take the time to talk about safe driving and to develop a plan to minimize the risk of accidents, especially during these 100 deadly days. Parents can help set rules to limit the number of passengers allowed in their teen’s car, limit cell phone use, and keep tabs on where their kids are going. Of course, it’s also up to parents to lead by example and to make certain they are following safe driving habits themselves when they are behind the wheel.