The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among teens than any other age group. The summer, when kids are driving more because school is out, is an especially dangerous time.
During the past five years, nearly 3,500 people were killed in crashes involving teen drivers during the “100 Deadliest Days,” between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The average number of daily deaths from crashes involving drivers ages 15 – 18 during this time span is 17 percent higher compared with the rest of the year, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. And it’s not just teens who are at risk. Nearly two-thirds of those injured or killed in a crash involving a teen driver are other people.
To combat these accidents, AAA encourages parents to:
• Talk with teens early and often about abstaining from dangerous behavior behind the wheel, such as speeding, impairment and distracted driving.
• Teach by example and minimize risky behavior.
• Make a driving agreement between parents and teens setting family rules for teen drivers.
AAA recommends that teens preparing to drive enroll in a driver education program that teaches safety skills including avoiding driver distraction.
AAA also offers tools for parents and teens, including the TeenDriving.AAA.com website and the AAA online StartSmart program.
BY THE NUMBERS
Major factors contributing to fatal teen crashes during the summer include:
• Speeding (28%): This growing problem among teen drivers significantly increases the severity of a crash. In the AAA Foundation’s latest Traffic Safety Culture Index, half (49.7%) of teen drivers reported recently speeding on a residential street and nearly 40 percent say they sped on the freeway.
• Drinking and driving (17%): Even though teens cannot legally consume alcohol, 1 in 6 teen drivers involved in fatal crashes during the summer tested positive for alcohol.
• Distraction (9%): More than half of teen drivers (52%) report having recently read a text message or email while driving and nearly 40 percent report having recently sent a text or email.
While federal crash data shows just under 10% of crashes are related to this type of behavior, AAA Foundation research using in-vehicle dash cam videos of teen driver crashes found distraction was involved in 58% of teen crashes, approximately four times as high as the federal estimates. It is difficult for law enforcement to detect distraction following a crash, which has made it one of the most underreported traffic safety problems.