Memorial Day is the unofficial kickoff to summer across the country. And it’s also the kickoff to the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer — this period from Memorial Day to Labor Day has an increased number of car crashes. In fact, nearly 3,500 people have died in road crashes or other traffic incidents that involve a teen driver during the 100 Deadliest Days.
Once school lets out for the summer, more teen drivers are on the road, which increases all travelers risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 16- and 17-year old drivers are 4.5 times more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident, and six times more likely to be involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident than adult drivers. Distracted driving, drinking and driving, and speeding top the list of factors that contribute to fatal teen crashes.
Teens’ lack of driving experience coupled with distractions such as other passengers, cell phone distractions, or trying to eat or complete another task while driving can be a deadly combination our public roads. Because teen drivers are still learning how to drive, they are more likely to be involved in a fatal accident.
- Teens who drive with passengers are more likely to be involved in a crash. The risk increases with the number of passengers.
- Newly licensed teens are at more of a risk for being involved in a crash. Drivers who are 16 and 17 years old are twice as likely to be involved in a fatal crash as 18 and 19 year old.
- One in three teens have admitted to texting while driving.
- Texting while driving increases your teen’s risk of being in an accident by 23 times.
Drinking & Driving
Drinking under the age of 21 is illegal in all states, and teens who are caught drinking and driving face severe consequences. Many states have zero tolerance laws where teens aren’t allowed to have any alcohol of illegal drugs in their system at any time. While drinking and driving is serious for everyone, teens are more likely to be killed in an alcohol-related accident.
- In 2016, 16 percent of 15- to 18-year-old drivers involved in a fatal accident had been drinking.
- Teen alcohol use kills 4,300 people each year.
- Around one in seven teenagers binge drinks, but only one in 100 parents believe their child drinks.
While teens might think speeding is harmless, it affects every driver on the road. In 2017, speeding killed 9,717 people on our nation’s roads. When teens speed, they are more likely to lose control over their vehicle, and they’re more likely to experience more dangerous crashes, and more severe injuries if involved in an accident.
- From 2000–2011, teens were involved in 19,447 speeding-related accidents.
- 27 percent of young driver and passenger deaths happen in speed-related crashes.
Safe Driving Practices to Help Teen Drivers or Inexperienced Drivers
Modeling appropriate driving behavior helps teens understand how to drive. Be involved with your teens to monitor their driving and teach them about speeding. Teach them about the impacts of passenger distractions on driving and help your teen think about guidelines for passengers in their car. You also want to explain the serious consequences of drinking and driving, and how it affects not only the driver but also other people on the roads. If your teen is planning a summer road trip with friends, make sure their driving skills are well-honed and that they are prepared to handle detours, road construction, and any other travel hazards safely.
For more information about installing a voluntary ignition interlock device for your teen to help prevent drinking and driving, learn more here.